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U.S. to ban Kaspersky cybersecurity products over security concerns

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U.S. to ban Kaspersky cybersecurity products over security concerns
The United States announced Friday it's banning sales and downloads from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, saying the company is too close to Russia. Will Canada do the same? Global's Nathaniel Dove reports – Jun 24, 2024

The Biden administration will ban cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab from selling products in the United States over concerns the firm is closely tied to Russia and poses a security risk.

It is also sanctioning 12 senior leaders at the company.

“Russia has shown it has the capacity and … intent to exploit Russian companies like Kaspersky to collect and weaponize the personal information of Americans,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a call with reporters.

The move comes as Washington continues to put pressure on Moscow and as the Russian war against Ukraine is regaining momentum.

The administration plans to add Kaspersky, along with several of its Russian and U.K.-based units, to a trade restrictions list, which will bar downloads of software updates, licensing and resales.

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The ban is set to take effect on Sept. 29 and will block any new Kaspersky business 30 days after that.

The sanctions will snap into effect on June 24. They block those targeted from owning property or entities in the U.S., from doing any business within the U.S. and from anyone in the U.S. from doing business with them or anything they own.

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Kaspersky did not immediately reply to Global News’ request for comment. But in an online statement the company said the Commerce Department “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.”

“Kaspersky does not engage in activities which threaten U.S. national security and, in fact, has made significant contributions with its reporting and protection from a variety of threat actors that targeted U.S. interests and allies,” it said.

The statement further say Kaspersky intends to pursue “all legally available options to preserve current operations.”

The company previously told Reuters it had no ties to the Russian government.

Click to play video: 'Canadian agencies ill-equipped to tackle growing cybercrime threat, auditor general finds'
Canadian agencies ill-equipped to tackle growing cybercrime threat, auditor general finds

A Kremlin spokesperson said the U.S. was banning Kaspersky because it’s “very competitive” and the move was the United States’ “favourite trick of unfair, dishonest competition.”

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The Department of Homeland Security banned Kaspersky’s flagship antivirus product from federal networks in 2017, alleging the company had ties to Russian intelligence. The department also stated Russian law lets intelligence agencies compel assistance from companies and intercept communications sent over Russian networks.

The Canadian government banned Kaspersky applications from government mobile devices in October 2023, saying they “present an unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”

A Treasury Board spokesperson, in a statement, said “Canadians’ decision to use an application or platform is a personal choice.”

Canadians and Canadian organizations “must make an informed decision based on their own needs and risk-assessments,” spokesperson Rola Salem wrote.

Jennifer Quaid, executive director of the non-profit Canadian Cyber Security Exchange, said Canada often lags behind the U.S. because the American government has a much larger defence budget and because it is targeted more often and so needs to act sooner.

“Cyber is our new war zone, if you will,” she said, speaking from Toronto.

“It’s the new place where nation states are starting to play.”

She said most cyber security professionals “would have significant concerns over using any system that a foreign government can compel access to.”

— with files from Reuters

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