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US bans Kaspersky antivirus software over Russia ties

June 20, 2024

The Russian software company will no longer be able to sell or even update its products in the United States. The move comes amid fears of Russian cyberattacks.

This file photo taken on February 28, 2022 shows the stand of Russian antivirus software development company Kaspersky on the opening day of the MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, Spain
Kaspersky will no longer be able to sell its products in the US from the end of SeptemberImage: PAU BARRENA/AFP

The White House said on Thursday that it will ban the sale of Russia's Kaspersky Lab antivirus software in the United States.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the company's ties with Moscow posed a risk to its large US customer base.

"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 told reporters.

The block is set to come in on September 29, giving companies that may rely on Kaspersky products to find an alternative. 

"Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use," the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Kaspersky said its activities did not threaten the US national security and that the US decision was based on "the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns." The company vowed to pursue legal options to preserve its operations.

Ban using Trump-era rules

Kaspersky software is widely used in the US, including by critical infrastructure providers as well as state and local governments.

Raimondo said the access the antivirus software grants to the Russian company, and potentially the Kremlin, could allow it to steal sensitive information or install malware.

The Biden administration used powers created under the Trump presidency that can effectively bar a company's US supplier from selling their product.

Former President Donald Trump had tried to use the powers to ban the use of Chinese social media platforms TikTok and WeChat, but he was obstructed by federal courts.

Russia's hybrid warfare: the real threat to the West?

Anti-Russian firewall

The move follows years of mounting concerns over Russian cyberattacks and manipulation.

The US Department of Homeland Security already banned the use of the software for federal networks in 2017, saying that the company had ties to Russian intelligence.

Pressure increased further after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The day after the invasion, the Biden administration started warning companies that Kaspersky software could be manipulated by Moscow.

Kaspersky, which has denied the allegations that it cooperates with the Russian authorities, said in its corporate profile that it generated revenue of $752 million (€703 million) in 2022.

ab/sms (Reuters, AFP)