The US government announced on Thursday that it had banned the sale Kaspersky Antivirus in the country, Americans who use the program are being asked to switch to a different provider.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said it imposed the “first-of-its-kind” ban, arguing that Kaspersky threatens US national security and users’ privacy because the company is based in Russia.

“Russia has demonstrated that it has the ability, and even more so, the intent to exploit Russian companies like Kaspersky to collect Americans’ personal information and use it as a weapon. That is why we are forced to take the action we are taking today,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a call with reporters. .

News of the ban was the first As reported by Reuters Before advertising. A Kaspersky spokesperson did not immediately respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment.

Kaspersky will be banned from selling its software to US consumers and businesses starting July 20, but the company will be able to provide software and security updates to existing customers until September 29. After that, Kaspersky will no longer be allowed to push software updates. For customers in the United States, according to Raimondo.

“This means that your software and services will deteriorate. That is why I highly recommend that you immediately find an alternative to Kaspersky.”

American consumers who already use Kaspersky’s antivirus software are not violating the law, Raimondo said.

“US individuals and companies who continue to use or have existing Kaspersky products and services are not violating the law, have done nothing wrong and are not subject to any criminal or civil penalties,” Raimondo said. “However, I would encourage you in the strongest possible terms, to immediately stop using this software and switch to an alternative in order to protect yourself, your data, and your family.”

To inform consumers, Raimondo said the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice will work to notify American consumers, and the U.S. government will create a website, “so affected people can find the information they need to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, and help them take steps.” next.

The federal cybersecurity agency CISA will reach out to critical infrastructure organizations that use Kaspersky software in their operations to help them find alternatives, a senior US Commerce Department official said during the press call. The official also said they don’t plan to name any specific action by Kaspersky that led to today’s decision. (The Ministry of Commerce asked reporters not to mention the official’s name.)

The ban announced on Thursday is the latest escalation in a long series of measures taken by the US government against the Moscow-based company Kaspersky.

In September 2017, the Trump administration US federal agencies have been banned from using Kaspersky software Because of concerns that the company may be forced to assist Russian intelligence agencies. Earlier in the year, that He was mentioned Russian government hackers stole classified US documents stored on an intelligence contractor’s home computer because he was running Kaspersky antivirus software, marking the first known espionage incident resulting from the use of the company’s software.

The decision to ban Kaspersky has been in place since last year, According to a Wall Street Journal report in April 2023.

According to KasperskyThe company has more than 400 million individual customers, and more than 240,000 corporate customers around the world. The senior official declined to specify how many Kaspersky customers are in the United States, but said there are a significant number, including critical infrastructure organizations and state and local government entities.

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