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U.S. Imposes Ban on Kaspersky Software

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 23, 2024

U.S. Imposes Ban on Kaspersky Software

The U.S. government, through the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, has issued a ban on the sale of Kaspersky antivirus software, effective from July 20.

This measure is taken under the claim that the Moscow-based company poses a national security threat and compromises user privacy. This decision is part of a broader effort to mitigate risks that could arise from Russian entities potentially exploiting access to sensitive information.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo articulated the government’s stance, emphasizing that the Russian government has both the capacity and intent to utilize companies like Kaspersky to gather and weaponize personal data of Americans. She underscored the necessity of the ban by stating, “Russia has shown it has the capacity, and even more than that, the intent to exploit Russian companies like Kaspersky to collect and weaponize the personal information of Americans. And that’s why we are compelled to take the action that we’re taking today.”

How Long Can Users Update Kaspersky Software?

While sales will cease on the specified date, Kaspersky is permitted to provide software and security updates to its existing customers up until September 29. Beyond this point, the company will no longer be allowed to issue updates in the U.S., leading Raimondo to strongly recommend users to switch to alternative antivirus providers to maintain their cybersecurity.

Raimondo reassured that individuals and businesses currently using Kaspersky products are not violating any laws, nor are they subject to criminal or civil penalties. She encouraged them to discontinue use and switch to other software to protect their data and privacy. The U.S. plans to support affected users through outreach efforts; the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will collaborate to notify consumers and facilitate the transition to new software. A dedicated website will be established to offer necessary information and guidance.

Additionally, the federal cybersecurity agency CISA is set to assist organizations involved in critical infrastructure that currently employ Kaspersky software, helping them to identify and transition to alternative security solutions.

Despite these expansive measures, the Commerce Department did not disclose any specific incidents directly linking Kaspersky software to espionage activities, but highlighted the preventative nature of the ban.

What Led to the Current Ban on Kaspersky?

This move against Kaspersky follows a series of U.S. actions targeting the firm, including a 2017 prohibition under the Trump administration that barred federal agencies from using Kaspersky software. This was prompted by concerns over potential Russian intelligence exploitation, which gained further credibility when it was reported that Russian hackers had previously stolen classified U.S. documents from a government contractor’s home computer running Kaspersky antivirus.

The plan to prohibit Kaspersky’s services has been under consideration since last year, as reported by The Wall Street Journal in April 2023.

Kaspersky claims it serves over 400 million individual users and more than 240,000 corporate clients globally. Although the senior official did not specify the number of Kaspersky’s U.S. customers, they confirmed it includes a considerable portion, encompassing critical infrastructure organizations, as well as state and local government bodies.

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Featured Image courtesy of Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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