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US bans Kaspersky AV software, citing Russian exploitation

The White House’s new mandate will see sales of Kaspersky software in the US stopped within months.

user icon David Hollingworth
Fri, 21 Jun 2024
US bans Kaspersky AV software, citing Russian exploitation
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The United States Commerce Department has announced an imminent ban on the sales and support of all Kaspersky anti-virus products and security services within the US over Russian interference concerns.

From 20 July, Kaspersky – a Russian company – will be banned from selling its products to new customers; however, it will be able to support existing customers until 29 September to give existing US customers time to find “suitable alternatives”.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to a whole-of-government approach to protect our national security and out-innovate our adversaries,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement.


“Russia has shown time and again they have the capability and intent to exploit Russian companies, like Kaspersky Lab, to collect and weaponise sensitive US information, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to safeguard US national security and the American people. Today’s action, our first use of the Commerce Department’s ICTS authorities, demonstrates Commerce’s role in support of our national defence and shows our adversaries we will not hesitate to act when ... their technology poses a risk to United States and its citizens.”

The Office of Information and Communications Technology and Services, or OICTS, is nested within the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security and is responsible for evaluating whether or not communications or information technologies “pose an undue or unacceptable national security risk”.

Speaking on the ban, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said: “We would never give an adversarial nation the keys to our networks or devices, so it’s crazy to think that we would continue to allow Russian software with the deepest possible device access to be sold to Americans.”

The ban covers the US subsidiary Kaspersky Lab Inc, as well as AO Kaspersky Lab and OOO Kaspersky Group in Russia, and Kaspersky Labs Ltd in the United Kingdom.

Kaspersky, for its part, has said it will “pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships” in a statement to The Register.

“Kaspersky does not engage in activities [that] threaten US 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,” Kaspersky said.

Andrew Borene, executive director for global security at threat intelligence firm Flashpoint and a former senior officer at the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center, sees the move as a logical one, however.

“This decision is a logical reflection of the tectonic shifts that are dividing economies along the lines of power competition between allies and the Russia/China/Iran/North Korea digital domain; these divides obviously extend into private sector actors as well,” Borene said.

“Kaspersky has a history of problems with US, Canadian and other allied governments – banning its use for US security probably is a wise choice in many cases, particularly in the categories of civilian critical infrastructure at state/local/municipal level whether that infrastructure is inherently governmental or privately owned and operated.”

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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