Stop using popular antivirus or risk Russian spying, warns German government

People across Europe are being warned not to use a popular antivirus because of its alleged links to the Kremlin.

Germany's Federal Office for Information Security issued a public warning urging people to stop using Kaspersky antivirus and pick a different cybersecurity product for their devices.

The antivirus software, which is headquartered in Russia, offers sophisticated tools for protecting personal computers and device from viruses and malware.

However, the German authority is concerned that, amid the war in Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin will force Kaspersky to spy on its customers using the antivirus software—a claim that bosses at Kaspersky strongly deny.

The German authorities said in a statement that “The warlike actions of Russia as well as the threats made against the EU, NATO, and the Federal Republic of Germany harbor a considerable risk of a successful IT attack, which could have far-reaching consequences.

"It cannot currently be ruled out that the company will be forced against its will to attack systems or pass on confidential data.”

However, Kaspersky argues that the claims are baseless and point out that their data processing facilities and services are based in Switzerland and other countries around the world. They also argue that their services have been audited by independent third parties.

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It said: "At Kaspersky, we believe that transparency and the continued implementation of concrete measures to demonstrate our enduring commitment to integrity and trustworthiness to our customers is paramount.

"Kaspersky is a private global cybersecurity company and, as a private company, does not have any ties to the Russian or any other government."

There are no confirmed instances of Kaspersky or other verified antivirus providers using their products for spying on users.

However, potential exploits of Kaspersky software have been demonstrated in the past, for example when a former hacker at the National Security Agency was able to reverse engineer Kaspersky in order to gather classified documents off of a computer.

  • Russia
  • Russia Ukraine war

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