U.S. Commerce Department bans Russian-backed Kaspersky Lab Software amid security concerns

Kaspersky Lab has consistently denied any improper influence from the Russian government.

The USA has announced a comprehensive ban on the use of Kaspersky Lab’s cybersecurity software in the United States, citing national security risks associated with the Russian-backed company. This significant move, spearheaded by the U.S. Commerce Department, underscores growing concerns over potential Russian government influence and data exploitation through the software.

U.S. officials have been wary of Kaspersky Lab’s operations since at least 2017. Under Russian law, the government has the authority to access all Kaspersky systems, which raises alarm about the potential misuse of American user data. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized these risks in a statement on Thursday, highlighting Russia’s capability and intent to leverage companies like Kaspersky for intelligence operations.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has exercised its new authorities to enforce the ban. Raimondo noted that the decision was driven by Russia’s continued offensive cyber capabilities and the potential threat to American data security.

Under the new regulation, Kaspersky is prohibited from entering into any new agreements within the U.S. after July 20. While existing customers can continue to receive cyber and antivirus support until September 29, the company will be unable to provide security updates beyond that date. Consequently, software services will degrade, potentially leaving users vulnerable to cyber threats.

Raimondo urged current Kaspersky users in the U.S. to seek alternative cybersecurity solutions promptly. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas supported the Commerce Department’s actions, stressing the importance of reliable cybersecurity for American citizens.

Kaspersky Lab has consistently denied any improper influence from the Russian government. In a 2017 interview with ABC News, Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s founder, refuted allegations of collaboration with Russian agencies, describing U.S. government warnings as wrong advice and the rumours of partnerships with government agencies as false.

As the deadline approaches, American businesses and individuals using Kaspersky products must transition to alternative cybersecurity solutions to ensure ongoing protection and compliance with U.S. regulations. The ban marks a pivotal step in the U.S. government’s efforts to safeguard national security against foreign cyber threats.