US bans Kaspersky antivirus software for alleged Russian links

The US has announced plans to ban the sale of antivirus software made by Russian firm Kaspersky due to its alleged links to the Kremlin.

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

She said that the US was compelled to take action due to Russia’s “capacity and… intent to collect and weaponise the personal information of Americans”.

“Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use,” the Commerce Department said.

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

The plan uses broad powers created by the Trump administration to ban or restrict transactions between US firms and tech companies from “foreign adversary” nations like Russia and China.

The plan will effectively bar downloads of software updates, resales and licensing of the product from 29 September and new business will be restricted within 30 days of the announcement.

Sellers and resellers who violate the restrictions will face fines from the Commerce Department.

The Commerce Department will also list two Russian and one UK-based unit of Kaspersky for allegedly cooperating with Russian military intelligence.

The company has long been a target for US regulators. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security banned its flagship antivirus product from federal networks, alleging ties to Russian intelligence.

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

The number of customers affected in the US is classified business data.

However, a Commerce Department official was quoted by Reuters as saying that it was a “significant number” and included state and local governments and companies that supply telecommunications, power, and healthcare.

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