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US Bans Kaspersky Antivirus Sales Over Russia Ties: What You Need to Know

Kaspersky, maintaining its status as a privately operated entity with no official ties to the Russian government, faces a ban on its antivirus software sales in the United States.

The Biden administration announced plans on Thursday to prohibit the sale of antivirus software from Russia’s Kaspersky Lab within the United States. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted concerns over Russia’s potential influence on the company, citing significant security risks associated with its software, as reported by Reuters. During a briefing with reporters, Raimondo underscored the privileged access Kaspersky’s software has to computer systems, raising concerns about compromising sensitive American data and facilitating malware deployment by withholding critical updates.

“Russia has demonstrated its capacity and intent to exploit Russian companies like Kaspersky to collect and weaponize Americans’ personal information, which is why we are compelled to take the action that we are taking today,” Raimondo stated.

Kaspersky Lab’s Response

Kaspersky Lab responded to the decision with disappointment, attributing it to geopolitical tensions rather than a comprehensive evaluation of its product integrity. The company reiterated that its operations pose no threat to US national security and announced plans to explore legal options to protect its business.

The Russian Embassy did not provide an immediate comment on the development, as per Reuters. Kaspersky has consistently maintained its status as a privately operated entity with no official ties to the Russian government.

Implementation of the Ban

Under the new rule, authorised during the Trump administration, three units of Kaspersky Lab will be added to a trade restriction list. Commerce Secretary Raimondo noted that this decision could significantly impact Kaspersky’s global sales and reputation.

Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks

The Biden administration’s actions underscore its efforts to mitigate potential cybersecurity threats posed by Russian technology firms, particularly amidst ongoing geopolitical tensions and Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. These measures reflect the administration’s expanded authority to regulate transactions involving US firms and technology companies from adversarial nations like Russia and China.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, voiced support for the decision, highlighting the critical need to protect US networks from potential adversaries. “We would never give an adversarial nation the keys to our networks or devices, so it’s illogical to continue allowing Russian software with extensive device access to be sold to Americans,” Warner emphasized.

Effective Date and Transition Period

Effective September 29, the new restrictions will ban the sale, update downloads, resales, and licensing of Kaspersky software in the US. Businesses will have a 100-day transition period to find alternative solutions, with new US transactions with Kaspersky to be blocked 30 days after the announcement.

Additionally, the Commerce Department will entity list two Russian units and one UK-based unit of Kaspersky Lab, alleging their involvement in supporting Russian military intelligence’s cyber intelligence objectives.

These measures build upon existing export restrictions imposed on Kaspersky Lab’s Russian operations due to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, extending to prevent the UK-based unit from receiving goods from American suppliers.

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