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The United States has blocked Kaspersky’s leadership from conducting transactions in the country, a day after the Commerce Department’s ban on the sale of Kaspersky’s antivirus software in the U.S. amid national security concerns.

Twelve people associated with Kaspersky have been added to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

However, OFAC did not include Kaspersky’s CEO and founder, Eugene Kaspersky, on the list, and the company itself has not been sanctioned by OFAC.

Treasury Department’s rationale and future outlook

‚ÄúToday‚Äôs 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,‚ÄĚ said Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement. ‚ÄúThe United States will take action where necessary to hold accountable those who would seek to facilitate or otherwise enable these activities.‚ÄĚ

The sanctions make it much more difficult for the blocked individuals to start businesses in the U.S.

Along with the sanctions, the ban also prevents current Kaspersky antivirus users from downloading software updates. Users have until September 29th to switch to alternative solutions. In a press release, the Commerce Department asked that anyone using Kaspersky software should ‚Äúexpeditiously transition to new vendors to limit exposure of personal or other sensitive data to malign actors due to a potential lack of cybersecurity coverage.‚ÄĚ

In a statement to CRN, Kaspersky called the sanctions ‚Äúunjustified and baseless‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúbased on the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns, rather than on a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of (the) company’s products and operations.‚ÄĚ

Company’s defense and commitment to transparency

The statement also said that the vendor ‚Äúwill continue to defend ourselves against actions that seek to unfairly harm our reputation and commercial interests.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe current step will not affect the company‚Äôs resilience as neither Kaspersky nor its subsidiary companies nor its CEO were designated by the OFAC. Neither Kaspersky nor its management team has any ties to any government, and we consider the allegations quoted by the OFAC as pure speculation,‚ÄĚ said the company.

The decision not to target the company directly gives users time to migrate to other software, while signaling the possibility of future action. Despite concerns that its software could allow entry into sensitive systems, Kaspersky has hundreds of millions of customers worldwide, many of whom are in the U.S., making this no small feat.

As part of the sanctions on Kaspersky executives, they are prohibited from giving or receiving funds, goods, or services in the U.S. The Treasury Department also warned that, “foreign financial institutions that conduct or facilitate significant transactions or provide any service involving Russia‚Äôs military-industrial base risk being sanctioned by OFAC.”

The Treasury Department has emphasized that the sanctions are not intended “to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior,” and noted that individuals on the list have a path to be removed from it.

An effort to protect national security

‚ÄúData privacy practices and the cybersecurity threat landscape represent critical risk factors for global businesses,‚ÄĚ said Vinod Paul, president, Align Managed Services. ‚ÄúThe recent sanctions against key Kaspersky executives and the ban on domestic U.S. cybersecurity sales highlight a situation that most business stakeholders, regardless of size, seek to avoid. The U.S.’s proactive approach to addressing potential international cybersecurity danger is prompting the channel and managed services community to evaluate potential risks within today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape, considering both ethical and practical implications.”

Indeed, as the geopolitical landscape continues to evolve, the U.S. government’s actions against Kaspersky executives underscore a broader effort to safeguard national security and maintain the integrity of cyber defenses. The future of Kaspersky’s operations and its extensive user base remains uncertain as the company navigates these new challenges.

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