US Halts Sale of Russian Antivirus Kaspersky Over Security Concerns

The United States has decided to stop the sale of antivirus software made by Russia’s Kaspersky, citing worries about its ties to the Kremlin. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted the potential risk posed by Moscow’s influence over Kaspersky, suggesting that the firm’s ties to the Russian government could enable the collection and weaponization of Americans’ personal information.

As a result, the US government believes it necessary to take preemptive measures to safeguard national infrastructure and services.

Under the new restrictions, Kaspersky will be largely barred from selling its software in the US and from providing updates to existing users.

This decision, announced by the Commerce Department, will be implemented using broad powers established during the Trump administration, which allow the US to restrict transactions with tech companies from “foreign adversary” nations such as Russia and China.

US Halts Sale of Russian Antivirus Kaspersky Over Security Concerns
US Halts Sale of Russian Antivirus Kaspersky Over Security Concerns

The enforcement will begin with the cessation of software updates and resales from September 29, with new business activities being restricted within 30 days of the announcement.

In response to the ban, Kaspersky has denied any involvement in activities that threaten US security and expressed its intent to pursue all available legal options to contest the decision.

The Commerce Department’s plan includes potential fines for sellers and resellers who fail to comply with the new restrictions. Additionally, the department will list two Russian and one UK-based unit of Kaspersky for allegedly collaborating with Russian military intelligence.

The targeting of Kaspersky by US regulators is not new; in 2017, the Department of Homeland Security banned the company’s flagship antivirus product from federal networks over similar allegations of ties to Russian intelligence.

Despite being headquartered in Moscow, Kaspersky operates globally with offices in 31 countries and serves over 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients in more than 200 countries.

The exact number of affected US customers is classified, but a Commerce Department official mentioned it includes a significant number of state and local governments and critical infrastructure suppliers.

This move underscores the ongoing concerns within the US government about cybersecurity threats from foreign adversaries, particularly Russia. The ban on Kaspersky’s software reflects a broader strategy to mitigate potential risks associated with foreign tech firms and protect sensitive personal and institutional data from potential exploitation.

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