The US is considering imposing further sanctions on Kaspersky as the Russia – Ukraine conflict rages on.
As Reuters exclusively reported, the Biden administration has “ramped up” a national probe into the antivirus company over fears it might be abused by the Kremlin to spy on the west.
The idea is that Kaspersky will have privileged access to computer systems where their solutions are installed. Given that many government agencies, as well as major corporations and national infrastructure operators use Kaspersky’s software on their endpoints, this privileged access could be abused by the 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 perceived as “particularly concerning”.
The Department of Justice initially assigned the task 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. American regulators have already banned the use of Kaspersky’s solutions on federal government devices, and now there’s a real possibility of Kaspersky being expelled from the States, altogether.
Both parties refused to comment on the matter, although Kaspersky has voiced its frustration over US government actions in the past, always stating that it has nothing to do with the Russian government.
In mid-March this year, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) issued a warning saying Kaspersky antivirus software could be abused to launch cyberattacks, or for eavesdropping and espionage, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While BSI did not explicitly demand the banning of the company and the product, it did suggest companies replace their cybersecurity solutions with those built by non-Russian vendors.
In a blog post entitled “Collateral Damage — on Cybersecurity”, company founder Eugene Kaspersky said that the BSI accusations were baseless.