US Bans Kaspersky Products; New Sales to Stop July 20, Updates Cut Off on September 29

by | Jun 25, 2024

In spite of ongoing tensions with its national government, Kaspersky products remain popular in the US due to competitive pricing and consistently strong performance in shutting down viruses and malware. Some clients may now have to scramble to implement an equivalent solution, however, as new US bans will make it unavailable to new customers in about a month and forbid the company from issuing updates in about three months.

US bans Kaspersky under circumstances similar to TikTok restrictions

The US bans of Kaspersky and TikTok are similar in that they both cite the national government of each company as the central reason, rather than anything specific the companies have done. The Department of Commerce is banning Kaspersky products under fear that Russia’s government will compel the company to turn over customer data and possibly use it as a means of reaching into foreign networks.

The move will likely cause substantial financial damage to the company. Kaspersky products are widely used in the US in spite of concerns about Russian hacking and espionage; the company has been a global market leader in cybersecurity for well over two decades now and has become a staple of hundreds of thousands of corporate networks worldwide. Kaspersky is headquartered in Moscow but has regional units all over the world, including one in Massachusetts.

The federal government has been at odds with Kaspersky in particular since the mid-2010s, when the company exposed the existence of an NSA APT team called “Equation Group” that is known to use malware against adversaries. Kaspersky said that it discovered the group’s identity by accident, when its malware turned up on the personal computer of an NSA employee that had run scans in an attempt to remove a different type of malware. US bans of use of Kaspersky products in federal civilian agencies were issued in 2017, amidst accusations that the Kremlin was actively using the company’s reach into foreign systems for espionage purposes.

Kaspersky products can still be sold in the US until July 20. Existing clients can continue to receive updates from Kaspersky until September 29, to provide some time to find and implement a new security solution. 12 Kaspersky executives have now been placed on the “entity list” in addition to the US bans, but founder Eugene Kaspersky is still not among them.

Kaspersky products can no longer receive updates in US at end of summer

After September 29, US companies that want to continue using Kaspersky products will be able to do so without legal penalties or consequences. But the inability to easily and safely update these products from within the US will likely force nearly all to switch to another security provider.

Kasperksky maintains that neither the Commerce Department nor other US government agencies have ever comprehensively evaluated its products and that the ban is based entirely on theoretical possibilities and the present political situation. The Russian government has gone a step farther in accusing the US bans of being about favoritism toward native antivirus providers. Like TikTok, Kaspersky has spent several years relocating customer data to servers outside of Russia to assuage such concerns (in this case moving a substantial amount of its operations to Switzerland).

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