Kaspersky halts all European security projects in response to EU ban

CEO Eugene Kaspersky warns the EU's decision 'plays into the hands of cyber criminals'

Kaspersky has frozen all cyber security collaborations with European agencies and organisations in protest against an EU statement that referred to its software as "malicious".

A motion tabled as part of a wider EU cyber security report last month called for a comprehensive review of all IT software, infrastructure and equipment used by member states, in an attempt to stop "an unprecedented threat" of "politically motivated, state-sponsored cyber attacks".

The penultimate proposal of that report, which was adopted on 13 June, also called for a ban on any software products "that have been confirmed as malicious, such as Kaspersky Lab", with no mention of any other companies.

The motion follows a similar decision in the US, which has now banned all Kaspersky products from use within government departments, and guidance for UK public bodies, fearing ties between the Moscow-based company and the Russian government.

Kaspersky Lab, which said it has worked to protect the EU from cyber threats for the past 20 years, responded on Friday to call the accusation "untrue" and to say it showed a "distinct lack of respect", according to a statement provided to the BBC.

CEO Eugene Kaspersky said the company had no choice but to take "definitive action", announcing that the company would halt all collaborative efforts with EU cyber crime agencies, including Europol.

"We have protected the EU for 20 years working with law enforcement leading to multiple arrests of cybercriminals," CEO Kaspersky said on Twitter. "Based upon today's decision from the EU Parliament, we are forced to freeze our cooperation with orgs", specifically highlighting the #NoMoreRansom initiative, which helps ransomware victims recover their data.

He argued that the EU's stance worked to encourage cybercrime across its member states, and that the company's stance would hold until the EU withdrew the motion.

"It's indeed frustrating that there was no investigation, no evidence of any wrongdoing from our side, just references to false allegations from anonymous sources," added Kaspersky.

"The risks of using our software are purely hypothetical. Just as hypothetical as with any other cybersecurity software of any country. But the risk of becoming a victim of a genuine cyber attack is real - and extremely high. Ergo: EP's political decision plays *for* cybercrime".

The feud comes only a month after Kaspersky announced it would relocate some of its Moscow-based core infrastructure to data centres in Switzerland, in what would be the first of a series of "transparency centres".

Kaspersky considered the move to be a gesture of its willingness to work with governments, having long claimed independence from Russian authorities.

Image: Shutterstock

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