Kaspersky antivirus software banned from US Government computers

U.S. government banned federal agencies from using Kaspersky Labs antivirus software on Wednesday, 9/13/17. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security cited concerns about possible ties between unnamed Kaspersky officials and the Kremlin and Russian intelligence services. The department also noted that Russian law might compel Kaspersky to assist the government in espionage. Best Buy said it will no longer sell software made by the Russian company. Other retailers who sell the software -- such as Amazon, Office Depot and Staples -- have declined to comment.

Kaspersky software is widely used by consumers in both free and paid versions, raising the question of whether those users should follow the U.S. government's lead. Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, called the U.S. government decision "prudent," but he added that "for most everybody else, the software is fine."

Michael Sulmeyer, director of a cybersecurity program at Harvard, noted that antivirus software has deep access to one's computer and network, and suggested that consumers should also uninstall Kaspersky software to avoid any potential risks.  Sulmeyer also said retailers should follow Best Buy's lead and stop selling the software.

"Voluntarily introducing this kind of Russian software in a geopolitical landscape where the U.S.-Russia relationship is not good at all, I think would be assuming too much risk," he said. "There are plenty of alternatives out there."

Please be aware that Georgetown UIS does not include Kaspersky Labs' software in its endpoint security management plan, and there are currently no plans to either endorse its use or ban it from the University network. Please stay tuned for any changes to this position.