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Kaspersky Security Software Banned Over Russia Links

The US has decided to ban the sales of antivirus software made by Russia’s Kaspersky Lab in the United States.

The Biden administration cited the firm’s large US customers, including critical infrastructure providers and state and local governments, reported Reuters.

The new restrictions on inbound sales of Kaspersky software, which will also prohibit downloads of software updates, resales and licensing of the product, will take effect on September 29 to give businesses time to find alternatives. New US business for Kaspersky will be blocked 30 days after the restrictions are announced.

Moscow’s influence over the company was found to pose a significant risk, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a briefing call with reporters on Thursday.

“Russia has shown it has the capacity and… the intent to exploit Russian companies like Kaspersky to collect and weaponize the personal information of Americans and that is why we are compelled to take
the action that we are taking today,” Raimondo said on the call.

Cyber security (Image: Sourced from Unsplash)

The software’s privileged access to a computer’s systems could allow it to steal sensitive information from American computers or install malware and withhold critical updates, enhancing the threat, a source added.

The new rule will reportedly be coupled with another move to add three units of the company to a trade restriction list, Raimondo said, dealing a blow to the firm’s reputation that could severely impact its overseas sales too.

In 2023, Kaspersky saw a 4 per cent drop in its global revenue year-on-year to A$1.12 billion as it operated in around 200 countries.

Kaspersky responded to the latest ban by stating that it plans to “pursue all legally available options” to preserve its current operations. “Kaspersky believes that the Department of Commerce made its decision based on the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns, rather than on a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services,” it said in a statement.

“Kaspersky does not engage in activities which threaten U.S. national security and, in fact, has made significant contributions with its reporting and protection from a variety of threat actors that targeted US interests and allies.”

It noted that the latest measures will benefit cybercrime, restrict international cooperation between cybersecurity experts and take away the freedom among consumers to choose between different anti-malware technologies.

Here in Australia, back in 2017, the Federal Government said that it would not ban Kaspersky Lab, despite it being purged at the time from US Government computers.

With revised geo-political considerations since then, it’s yet to be seen whether Australia will follow the lead of its Aukus partner this time around on Kaspersky.

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