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Jun 21, 2024, 9:31am EDT
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Semafor Signals

US bans sales of Kaspersky antivirus software over Russian security risk concerns

Insights from Meduza, CNN, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy

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Albert Gea/Reuters/File Photo
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The News

The US said it would ban the sale of antivirus software made by Russian firm Kaspersky Lab in a first-of-its-kind move. The ban will come into effect at the end of September.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Moscow’s potential influence over the company posed an “unacceptable” security risk.

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Kaspersky said in a statement the decision was based on “the geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns,” and denied that it poses a risk.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Concern about software dates back several years

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Sources:  
Meduza, BuzzFeed News, NPR

The Kaspersky ban is the culmination of growing US scrutiny against the company that began in 2017, when its products were banned from federal government networks because of alleged ties to Russian intelligence. Kaspersky had become an “international giant” in cybersecurity, a BuzzFeed News and Meduza investigation found, but an internal power struggle that placed allies of Russia’s secret services against “‘tech-savvy’ staff and Western investors” ultimately led to former President Donald Trump signing an order to restrict the company’s activities in the US. The threat posed by Kaspersky and similar Russian companies has “not receded,” Liz Cannon, who leads the Department of Commerce’s information and communications technology office, told NPR.

US is increasing scrutiny over “foreign adversaries”

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Sources:  
CNN, Reuters, The Washington Post

The ban relies on new authorities the Commerce Department developed based on Trump and Biden executive orders, CNN reported, intensifying scrutiny over companies operated by “foreign adversaries” like Russia and China. The move comes as video sharing network TikTok is also under fire for its Chinese ownership, as US policymakers increase their focus on foreign-owned apps and raise concerns over the potential threats they pose to American privacy and security, The Washington Post said. Biden approved a ban-or-divest bill against the app in April.

Biggest threats coming from Russia, China, and Iran, especially on critical infrastructure

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Source:  
Foreign Policy

Threats to Western cybersecurity have increased in recent years, Foreign Policy wrote, particularly targeting “critical infrastructure” like communications, defense, manufacturing, energy, agriculture, water, and transportation. The most debilitating attacks on those sectors, like the ones against oil pipeline Colonial Pipeline, meat production giant JBS, and government system operator SolarWinds, have been attributed to groups in Russia. But experts said China is also increasing its targeting of the US, and Iran was linked to an attack that compromised water systems across states, the outlet added.



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