Kaspersky hits back at US software ban, citing political motivations and “theoretical concerns”

Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of Kaspersky Labs cyber security vendor.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cyber security vendor Kaspersky has hit out at plans by US lawmakers to ban sales of its antivirus software. 

Reports emerged on 20 June that the US government is set to prohibit the sale of Kaspersky products amid concerns over alleged links between the firm and the Russian government.

Under the plans, which are expected to come into force in late September, inbound sales of Kaspersky software will be banned for US companies. This will include any software updates, resales, and licensing of the product by US suppliers.

Sales of white-labeled products – those that use Kaspersky software under a different name – will also be barred.

The move marks the latest flashpoint in a long-running war of words between Kaspersky and US legislators, who have repeatedly argued that Kaspersky has links to the Russian government that present a national security risk.

Officials have previously suggested that elements of Russian law mean the government could lean on the company for intelligence-gathering purposes.

In a statement given to ITPro, Kaspersky insisted these allegations are false, and said the US Department of Commerce’s decision to float a product ban is politically motivated.

“Despite proposing a system in which the security of Kaspersky products could have been independently verified by a trusted third party, Kaspersky believes that the Department of Commerce made its decision based on the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns, rather than on a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services,” the firm said.

The company added that it “does not engage in activities which threaten US national security” and has made “significant contributions” by reporting on –and protecting against –threat actors that have actively targeted US institutions.

Kaspersky appears to be preparing for a lengthy battle to argue its case against any proposed ban.

“The company intends to pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships,” Kaspersky said.

Kaspersky says ban proposals will harm enterprises

In its statement, Kaspersky said it has implemented “significant transparency measures that are unmatched by any of its cyber security industry peers” to show it’s free of any government interference. 

In 2018, the company announced plans to relocate some of its operations from Russia to Switzerland. The move, which formed part of its Global Transparency Initiative (GTI), took more than two years to complete. 

The company said at the time it chose Switzerland due to its "policy of neutrality"

Kaspersky suggested that the US' decision to impose a ban "unfairly ignores" evidence of proactive efforts to improve transparency and warned the decision will negatively impact its customers. 

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The company argued that a ban would ultimately aid threat actors and have a detrimental effect on international efforts to combat cyber crime.

“The primary impact of these measures will be the benefit they provide to cybercrime,” the firm said. “International cooperation between cyber security experts is crucial in the fight against malware, and yet this will restrict those efforts.

“Furthermore, it takes away the freedom that consumers and organizations, large and small, should have to use the protection they want. This will cause a dramatic disruption for our customers, who will be forced to urgently replace technology they prefer and have relied upon for their protection for years.”

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

For news pitches, you can contact Ross at ross.kelly@futurenet.com, or on Twitter and LinkedIn.