Biden administration bans Kaspersky software sales and sanctions the company’s executives

The Biden administration is set to ban Kaspersky products in the U.S. from September 29, citing national security concerns over the firm’s ties to the Russian government, and the U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned twelve of the company’s executives.

 Smoke Pipe

The Biden administration is set to ban the sale of Kaspersky’s products in the US, citing national security concerns over the firm’s ties to the Russian government. The ban is aimed at mitigating the risks of Russian cyberattacks, as the renowned software’s privileged access to computer systems could allow it to steal sensitive information or install malware. The new rule, which leverages powers created during the Trump administration, will also add Kaspersky to a trade restriction list, barring US suppliers from selling to the company.

These restrictions, effective from 29 September, will halt new US business for Kaspersky 30 days after the announcement and prohibit downloads, resales, and licensing of the product. The decision follows a long history of regulatory scrutiny, including a 2017 Department of Homeland Security ban on Kaspersky products from federal networks due to alleged ties with Russian intelligence. Efforts by Kaspersky to propose mitigating measures were deemed insufficient to address these risks.

Furthermore, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned twelve executives and senior leaders from Kaspersky on Friday, marking another punitive measure against the cybersecurity company. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted the company’s chief operating officer, top legal counsel, head of human resources, and leader of research and development, among others. However, the company itself, its parent and subsidiary companies, and its CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, were not sanctioned.

This action follows a final determination by the Commerce Department to ban the Moscow-based company from operating in the U.S., citing national security risks and concerns about threats to critical infrastructure.

Why does it matter?

Another reaction from the authorities stresses the administration’s strategy to counter potential cyber threats amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. And while the impact of the entity blacklisting on Kaspersky’s operations remains to be seen, it appears now that it could significantly affect the company’s supply chain and reputation. Kaspersky, which operates in over 200 countries, has previously denied all accusations and, in response to these restrictive measures, has been operating a networks of Transparency Centers under its Global Transparency Initiative (GTI) where the company provides its source code for an external examination.