Biden administration to ban US sales of Kaspersky software over ties to Russia

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The Biden administration is set to announce a ban on the sale of Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software in the United States, citing security risks due to the company’s ties to the Russian government. This move targets Kaspersky’s substantial U.S. customer base, including critical infrastructure providers and government entities, and marks a significant step in the ongoing efforts to mitigate potential cyber threats from Russia.

The administration’s decision is based on the risk posed by Kaspersky’s software, which has privileged access to computer systems. This access could potentially be exploited to steal sensitive information, install malware, or withhold critical updates.

The new restrictions will take effect on September 29, giving businesses 100 days to find alternative solutions. Sales of Kaspersky software will be blocked 30 days after the restrictions are announced.

In addition to banning software sales, the administration plans to add Kaspersky to a trade restriction list, barring U.S. suppliers from selling to the company. This measure could severely impact Kaspersky’s reputation and its international business operations.

Kaspersky Lab has faced scrutiny from U.S. regulators for years. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security banned its flagship antivirus product from federal networks due to alleged ties with Russian intelligence. These concerns were amplified following media reports that Kaspersky had inadvertently aided in the transfer of hacking tools from a National Security Agency employee to the Russian government.

The recent actions against Kaspersky are part of a broader strategy to counter potential cyber threats as the conflict in Ukraine continues. The Biden administration is leveraging new authorities to restrict transactions with tech companies from “foreign adversary” nations, aiming to prevent cyberattacks and safeguard national security.

This ban aligns with similar moves by other major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy, who have adopted AI and other technologies to enhance security and efficiency. The Kaspersky ban is expected to force U.S. businesses to seek alternative cybersecurity solutions, potentially disrupting existing partnerships and contracts.

Under the new rules, sellers and resellers of Kaspersky products who violate the restrictions will face fines from the Commerce Department. In cases of willful violation, the Justice Department can pursue criminal charges. While software users will not face legal penalties, they will be strongly encouraged to discontinue the use of Kaspersky products.

 

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