US Bans Kaspersky Products, Sanctions 12 Senior Leaders

The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on 12 senior leaders of Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab, citing significant cybersecurity risks. This move comes just one day after the U.S. government announced plans to prohibit the sale of Kaspersky’s antivirus software due to “national security concerns.”

The sanctions, effective from September 29, target key figures within the company, including Andrei Tikhonov, Kaspersky’s long-serving Chief Operating Officer, and Igor Chekunov, the Chief Legal Officer. The U.S. Department of the Treasury stated that the sanctions will freeze the executives’ assets held in the United States and prohibit American entities from conducting financial transactions with them.

“Today’s action against the leadership of Kaspersky Lab underscores our commitment to ensure the integrity of our cyber domain and to protect our citizens against malicious cyber threats,” stated Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson.

AO Kaspersky is one of the two Russian units of Kaspersky Lab, which was placed on Washington’s trade-restriction list on Thursday. The U.S. government alleges that the company has been cooperating with Russian military intelligence, thereby supporting Moscow’s cyber-intelligence efforts.

In a statement released on Thursday, Kaspersky Lab announced its intention to “pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships,” asserting that it “does not engage in activities which threaten U.S. national security.”

The Kremlin responded by criticizing the U.S. decision, labeling it as a tactic to eliminate competition for American companies. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “Kaspersky Lab is a company which is very, very competitive on the international level. This is a favorite method of unfair competition from the part of the United States. They resort to such tactics every time.”

However, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller countered this assertion, emphasizing that Kaspersky Lab operates under the “jurisdiction, control or direction of the Russian government, which could exploit the privileged access to obtain sensitive data.”

The sanctions and the impending ban on Kaspersky products mark a significant escalation in the U.S.’ efforts to protect its cyber infrastructure from potential foreign threats. The U.S. government has long been wary of the potential for Russian entities to leverage cybersecurity products for intelligence gathering. This move is the latest in a series of measures aimed at mitigating such risks.

Kaspersky Lab, founded in 1997 by Eugene Kaspersky, has grown into one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms. However, its ties to the Russian government have been a point of contention, especially as cyber threats have become more sophisticated and state-sponsored hacking activities have increased.

The company has consistently denied any wrongdoing and maintains that it operates independently of any government influence.

The U.S. decision to sanction Kaspersky’s top executives and ban its products follows a broader strategy to isolate Russian technology companies accused of engaging in or facilitating malicious cyber activities. This strategy includes efforts to curtail the influence of Russian cyber capabilities globally, as part of a broader geopolitical struggle between the two nations.

Information for this story was found via Aljazeera and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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