U.S. Bans Kaspersky Software, Citing National Security Risks

This isn't the first time the federal government has targeted Kaspersky.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

June 21, 2024

4 Min Read
Kaspersky software ban in U.S.
Koshiro K/Shutterstock

The Biden administration is banning the sale of Kaspersky software in the United States, citing undue and unacceptable risks to national security, and to the security and safety of U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s final decision prohibits Kaspersky, based in Russia, and its affiliates from transacting business in the United States. This makes it illegal to sell, integrate or license any Kaspersky software on national security grounds.

The ban includes no new sales or agreements with Americans from July 20, and no new security software updates after Sept. 29.

The ban applies to consumers, government and business organizations.

Reasons Behind Kaspersky Software Ban

The Commerce Department cited numerous risks in its final decision. Among them, Russia, through its jurisdiction, direction or control over Kaspersky, could exploit access to sensitive information present on electronic devices that use Kaspersky’s cybersecurity and antivirus software in the United States, or install or inject new malware through manipulation of Kaspersky’s signature library and source code updates.

In addition, the department said Kaspersky may modify the software on a user’s device to reroute the transmission of data collected by the device, which can include personal and proprietary user data, to Kaspersky servers located in Russia, or otherwise accessible from Russia. Exploiting this access would provide the Russian government with vectors to conduct espionage, compromise specific devices or networks, gather U.S. business information (including intellectual property), and access U.S. person sensitive data.

Related:Kaspersky: Trusted Relationship Attacks Increasing

There are some elements of cybersecurity that the ban doesn't impact.

Kaspersky sent us the following statement:

“The decision does not affect the company’s ability to sell and promote cyber threat intelligence offerings and/or trainings in the United States. Despite proposing a system in which the security of Kaspersky products could have been independently verified by a trusted third party, Kaspersky believes that the Department of Commerce made its decision based on the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns, rather than on a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services. Kaspersky does not engage in activities which threaten U.S. national security and, in fact, has made significant contributions with its reporting and protection from a variety of threat actors that targeted U.S. interests and allies. The company intends to pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships.“

Kaspersky Says Cybercriminals Will Benefit From Ban

Kaspersky said for more than 26 years, it has succeeded in its mission of building a safer future by protecting over 1 billion devices. The Commerce Department’s decision “unfairly ignores the evidence.”

“The primary impact of these measures will be the benefit they provide to cybercrime,” it said. “International cooperation between cybersecurity experts is crucial in the fight against malware, and yet this will restrict those efforts. Furthermore, it takes away the freedom that consumers and organizations, large and small, should have to use the protection they want, in this case forcing them away from the best anti-malware technology in the industry, according to independent tests. This will cause a dramatic disruption for our customers, who will be forced to urgently replace technology they prefer and have relied upon for their protection for years. Kaspersky remains committed to protecting the world from cyber threats. The company’s business remains resilient and strong, marked by an 11% growth in sales bookings in 2023. We look forward to what the future holds, and will continue to defend ourselves against actions that seek to unfairly harm our reputation and commercial interests.”

Kaspersky Previously Targeted

In March 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deemed Kaspersky a threat to national security. A 2017 order by former President Trump already banned the federal government from using Kaspersky software.

Kevin Greene, public sector CTO at OpenText Cybersecurity, said geopolitics continues to shape the new cyber battlefield and will require organizations to be more informed not just about cyber threats, but the impact of geopolitics on cyber activity.

“The latest news regarding the U.S. government banning Kaspersky software is something I expected years ago,” he said. “Foreign software is the ideal attack vector that allows our adversaries to gain a wealth of telemetry about operating environments, but also, gain valuable intelligence as part of counterintelligence operations. We must continue to defend forward and protect this nation from hostile threats.”

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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