EU-wide ban proposed for Kaspersky

The Russian antivirus provider has been named by five EU nations as warranting a ban throughout the region for its ambiguous stance on the invasion of Ukraine, although as yet no evidence has emerged that it is spying for the Kremlin.

Poland, Ireland, and the three Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia called for the ban on Friday as part of a raft of proposed tougher sanctions on energy and banking concerns linked to Russia, in the wake of spiralling oil prices and Vladimir Putin’s decision to deepen his commitment to the invasion by conscripting reservists.

Kaspersky has attracted increased suspicion since the outbreak of the war, with some believing its products could be leveraged by Russia as the parallel cyberwar escalates in tandem with the conventional, kinetic, conflict in Ukraine.

Prior to that it has long been on the radar of Western countries, with Lithuania banning use of its products on machines within its borders deemed to be sensitive in 2017 and the EU and US announcing partial bans of their own in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

Kaspersky has also been criticized for continuing to offer its cybersecurity services to clients in Russia including its defense ministry, even as its invasion of Ukraine in February prompted a mass exodus of many other businesses from its territory.

That said, to date no evidence has emerged that Kaspersky is engaged in any kind of cyber-espionage on behalf of the rogue superstate.

The five EU states also want to see a wider ban imposed on all cybersecurity and IT services provided to Russia from companies based in the bloc.

"Kaspersky is aware of the discussions within the EU about a new sanctions package," said the company. "Kaspersky contributes to cybersecurity and cyber resilience in Europe and globally with extensive expertise and market-leading solutions, services and products. In addition, the company attaches great importance to transparency and ethical, responsible conduct."

At the time of writing, the EU has yet to respond publicly to the demands.

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