The United States is considering imposing new sanctions on Kaspersky as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict rages.
Like Reuters Exclusively, the Biden administration has “stepped up” a nationwide probe into the antivirus firm, fearing it is being exploited by the Kremlin to spy on the West.
The idea is that Kaspersky will have privileged access to the computer systems where their solutions are installed. Since many government agencies, as well as large corporations and national infrastructure operators use Kaspersky’s software on their devices, this privileged access could be abused by Russian authorities to steal sensitive information and spy on their Western adversaries.
Reuters’ Sources said potential access to US infrastructure, such as power grids, is seen as “particularly concerning”.
The Justice Department initially handed the task over to the Commerce Department, which made very little progress until March when the White House urged the organization to move forward, it was said.
What the probe means, remains to be seen. US regulators have already banned the use of Kaspersky’s solutions on federal government devices, and now there is a real possibility that Kaspersky will be kicked out of the US altogether.
Both sides declined to comment on the matter, although Kaspersky has expressed frustration with the US government’s actions in the past, always saying it had nothing to do with the Russian government.
In mid-March this year, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) issued a warning that Kaspersky antivirus software could be misused to launch cyberattacks, or to eavesdrop smuggling and espionage, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Although BSI did not explicitly demand the company and product be banned, it did suggest companies replace their cybersecurity solutions with those designed by non-Russian vendors.
In a blog post titled “Collateral Damage – About Cybersecurity,” company founder Eugene Kaspersky said BSI’s accusations were baseless.