Kaspersky Lab, a Russia-based cyber-security and antivirus provider, has been heavily criticised in the US and Europe recently. On June 13th, the European Parliament sat to administer a motion to improve cyber-security in its member states, which ranged from promoting greater synergy between participant countries, to increasing artificial intelligence research.
The issue raising the most concern, however, is the request for governmental organisations to exclude the use of malicious programmes relating to cyber-security, with Kaspersky Lab mentioned directly and exclusively. This follows a move last September where the United States Department of Homeland Security ordered the removal and replacement of Kaspersky products from all US agencies machines within 90 days. Some UK agencies have also introduced similar procedures, as have the Dutch government and police.
76. Calls on the EU to perform a comprehensive review of software, IT and communications equipment and infrastructure used in the institutions in order to exclude potentially dangerous programmes and devices, and to ban the ones that have been confirmed as malicious, such as Kaspersky Lab
– European Parliament Report 2018/2004(INI)
The company, which is currently the third largest vendor of consumer IT security software worldwide, recently announced plans to relocate its infrastructure and core operations to Switzerland. However, in retaliation to the European Parliament’s motion, it announced in a statement that the firm has “taken the difficult decision to temporarily halt our numerous collaborative European cybercrime-fighting initiatives, including those with Europol”.
In addition to this, the NoMoreRansom project has been suspended. This is a cooperative venture between Kaspersky Lab, Europol EC3, Politie (Netherlands), and McAfee which aims to decrypt the effects of ransomware without paying the ransom. Thus, the breakdown in the relationship between Kaspersky and the Dutch and European Authorities has rendered this service unsustainable.
The 400 million users of Kaspersky products should therefore be cautious of their software use. Although Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s CEO and founder, claims that “this decision from the European Parliament welcomes cybercrime in Europe”, strong moves from some of world’s most influential committees will certainly throw business and personal account holders into doubt about their products.
Therefore, the question at hand – should you uninstall and replace Kaspersky antivirus software?
The answer… isn’t so simple. While these allegations come from high-profile cases and institutions which need the highest level of defence, this is still an incredibly effective antivirus provider who analyse more than 350,000 malware samples every day. Claims of interference with US military organisations follow years of a sustained good relationship between Kaspersky and the US and European parliaments, discovering and combatting sophisticated espionage platforms, including the Equation Group and Stuxnet worm.
Therefore, your use of their products is down to your personal choice, though it may be best practice to be aware of developments and updates on this issue, and if you are working in a large business, to seek advice from your IT department.