US bans Kaspersky antivirus software over alleged Russian links

image caption, Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab

  • author, Graeme Baker
  • stock, BBC News, Washington

The United States has announced plans to ban the sale of antivirus software made by Kaspersky, a Russian company with alleged ties to the Kremlin.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Thursday that Moscow’s influence over the company was found to pose a significant risk to U.S. infrastructure and services.

He said the U.S. was forced to take action because of Russia’s “capability and … intent to collect and weaponize Americans’ private information.”

“Kaspersky generally cannot, among other activities, sell its software or provide updates to software already in use within the United States,” the Commerce Department said.

Kaspersky said it intended to pursue “all legally available options” to fight the ban, and denied it had engaged in any activity that threatened U.S. security.

The plan uses broad powers created by the Trump administration to ban or restrict transactions between US companies and technology companies from “foreign adversary” countries such as Russia and China.

The plan will prevent downloading of software updates, resales and licensing of the product from September 29, and new business will be restricted within 30 days of notification.

Sellers and resellers who violate the regulations will be fined by the Department of Commerce.

The Commerce Department will also list two Russian and one UK-based division of Kaspersky that allegedly cooperated with Russian military intelligence.

Although the multinational company is headquartered in Moscow, it has offices in 31 countries around the world, serving more than 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients in more than 200 countries, the Commerce Department said.

Categorized business data on the number of affected customers in the US.

However, a Commerce Department official cited by Reuters said it was a “significant number” and included state and local governments as well as companies that provide telecommunications, electricity and health services.

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