FCC Adds Kaspersky Lab to National Security Threat List
On Friday, March 25th, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) added Kaspersky Lab to its list of banned companies citing national security concerns. This blog discusses why Kaspersky was included on the list and the impact it will have on the company.
Who Is Kaspersky Lab?
Kaspersky Lab is a multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow, Russia. Kaspersky Lab was founded in 1997 by current CEO Eugene Kaspersky, Natalya Kaspersky, and Alexey De-Monderik and is operated by a holding company located in the United Kingdom.
Kaspersky Lab is one of the top five providers of anti-malware solutions worldwide with solutions that span from home use to enterprise deployments and is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Kaspersky software is currently being used by hundreds of thousands of companies and hundreds of millions of users worldwide.
What Is the FCC’s National Security Threat List?
In 2021, the FCC started an initiative to strengthen America’s communications network against foreign attacks. The FCC initially published a list of communication equipment and service providers that pose a risk to national security on March 12, 2021.
The companies cited in this initial list were exclusively Chinese telecom companies: Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.
On March 25, 2022, the FCC updated the list by adding three more companies: Kaspersky Lab, China Mobile International USA, and China Telecom (Americas). Kaspersky Labs is the first Russian company, and the first non-Chinese company, to be included on the National Security Threat List.
Why Did the FCC Add Kaspersky Lab to Its National Security Threat List?
Russian law requires all Russian-based companies to collaborate with the State’s main spy agency, the FSB. Russia has a history of successfully assisting State-backed attacks against the United States, including the SolarWinds attack and the Colonial Pipeline attack, so the concern over the potential malicious use of Kaspersky’s software is well-founded.
Pressure has been building on Kaspersky within the United States for several years. Back in 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raised red flags over the use of Kaspersky software citing concerns of the software potentially being used to facilitate Russian government spying. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a directive for federal agencies and contractors to stop using Kaspersky software.
What Does This Mean for Kaspersky?
This decision means that US companies are prohibited from using any funds from the FCC’s $8 billion Universal Service Fund to purchase products from any company on the list, including Kaspersky. This fund, appropriated by Congress, is being used to build out the internet infrastructure in rural and underserved communities throughout the United States.
While the direct impact of being banned from participating in purchases by the Universal Service Fund may impact some sales for Kaspersky, the real damage is to the brand. The FCC ban is shining a bright spotlight on Kaspersky and publicly tying the company directly to Russia. This will likely have a significant impact on enterprise sales and consumer sales for Kaspersky in the United States and throughout the world.