“Biden Prohibits U.S. Sales of Kaspersky Software Due to Russian Connections”

FILE PHOTO: 3D printed models of people working on computers and padlock are seen in front of a displayed Kaspersky logo in this picture illustration taken, February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced its intention to prohibit the sale of antivirus software from Russia’s Kaspersky Lab in the United States. This decision, impacting large U.S. clients including critical infrastructure and state and local governments, stems from concerns over Moscow’s influence on the company, which poses a significant security risk, according to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during a press briefing.

Raimondo explained that the software’s deep access to computer systems could potentially be used to extract sensitive American data, introduce malware, or disrupt critical updates. This vulnerability underscores the necessity of the ban, with Raimondo emphasizing that Russia’s capabilities and intentions to exploit companies like Kaspersky to gather and misuse Americans’ personal data are clear reasons for today’s decisive action.

Kaspersky Lab, which has previously denied any ties to the Russian government, did not immediately respond to comment requests, nor did the Russian Embassy. The new rule, leveraging broad powers established by the Trump administration, includes adding three Kaspersky units to a trade restriction list, which could significantly impact the firm’s global sales and reputation.

The restriction details and the addition of the cybersecurity company to the entity list—barring U.S. suppliers from trading with it—were first disclosed by Reuters. These steps are part of broader efforts by the Biden administration to mitigate potential Russian cyber threats through Kaspersky software and continue applying pressure on Moscow amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The policy, effective from September 29, provides a 100-day window to allow businesses to transition away from Kaspersky products, with a total ban on new U.S. business commencing 30 days post-announcement. This includes prohibitions on downloads, resales, licensing, and the use of white-labeled Kaspersky products integrated into other brands.

Additionally, two Russian and one UK-based unit of Kaspersky are to be added to the entity list for allegedly aiding Russian military intelligence. This measure effectively cuts off the UK unit from American suppliers, significantly impacting its operations.

The unfolding scenario builds on a backdrop of escalating scrutiny over Kaspersky since 2017, when the Department of Homeland Security removed its antivirus from federal networks due to its potential Russian intelligence links. These concerns have intensified following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting the U.S. to caution American firms about the risks posed by Kaspersky’s software.

Despite Kaspersky’s attempts to negotiate mitigating measures to avoid a total ban, the Commerce Department determined the risks were too significant to mitigate. Under the new regulations, violations by sellers or resellers can lead to fines, and criminal cases could be pursued for willful non-compliance. Software users, while not subject to legal penalties, are strongly advised to discontinue use.

Kaspersky, headquartered in the UK with operations in Massachusetts, reported $752 million in revenue in 2022, serving over 220,000 corporate clients across approximately 200 countries. Among its notable clients are the Italian vehicle manufacturer Piaggio, Volkswagen’s retail division in Spain, and the Qatar Olympic Committee.

Lucas Falcão

International Politics and Sports Specialist, Chief Editor of Walerts with extensive experience in breaking news.

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