Is Kaspersky still safe to use or does it pose a cyber security threat? | IT PRO (2023)


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Western nations have, once again, warned against using the Russian cyber security firm's products, but how reasonable are their claims?

by: Connor Jones

1 Apr 2022

Is Kaspersky still safe to use or does it pose a cyber security threat? | IT PRO (1)

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Kaspersky is one of the oldest names in the antivirus game, founded in 1997, but has recently gone through several rounds in the PR boxing ring. This is in no small part due to the geography of its head office – Moscow, Russia.

Questions around Kaspersky have been raised over the last few years, including whether the firm has ties to the Russian government in any capacity, and whether the products are vulnerable. While these concerns have rumbled for some time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown them into the spotlight.

Cyber security authorities from countries including the UK and the US have lined up in recent days to dissuade businesses from using Kaspersky’s products. This may prompt many organisations into asking whether Kaspersky’s products are, ultimately, safe to use. Arriving at a definitive answer, though, is far from straightforward.

Serious allegations, severe real-world consequences

Since the invasion, Germany, the US, and the UK have all released separate advisories warning businesses of the alleged risks of using Kaspersky’s products. The perceived heightened risk of Kaspersky, now war has broken out, essentially stems from the legal obligation for Russian-based businesses to comply with requests from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). A similar law exists in China and has largely underpinned the West’s discomfort around companies like Huawei.

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Such highly official and serious stances, adopted by several governments in a coordinated manner, are rare, and send an explicit message. Germany was the first to go public with its concerns that Kaspersky could be compelled into carrying out cyber attacks against Russia’s enemies, at the behest of the Kremlin. Within days, both the US and UK also released their own statements suggesting similar scenarios and warning businesses against using the company’s products. The US went a step further, though, by making Kaspersky the first Russian addition to the FCC’s blacklist, joining the likes of Huawei and ZTE, officially branding it a threat to US national security.

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What Kaspersky is most aggrieved with is the lack of evidence each government has presented in its respective advisories. A Kaspersky spokesperson, indeed, told IT Pro in March these advisories were “not based on any technical assessment of Kaspersky products” and “made on political grounds” – a statement the firm has reiterated since.

A history of alleged Russian ties

To suggest Kaspersky has been viewed with suspicion in recent years would be an understatement. Despite analyst house Gartner saying in 2012 there’s no material evidence to suggest Kaspersky is malicious in its products or behaviours, or has ties to the Russian government, that did little to quell a wave of allegations against the company since.

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The US has been particularly persistent in scrutinising Kaspersky, across several administrations, but it arguably all came to a head in 2017. High-profile US media organisations made a number of serious allegations against the company at the time which set in motion a catastrophic chain of events for Kaspersky.

Chief among them was the Wall Street Journal alleging in October 2017 the company’s products were used by Russian state-affiliated hackers to steal hacking tools used by an NSA contractor. Kaspersky vehemently denied these allegations, countering with the assertion the NSA contractor in question accidentally leaked their tools to Kaspersky during the course of normal use of its antivirus product.

Weeks later, the UK’s MI6 expressed concern over Barclays distributing Kaspersky software to more than two million of its online banking customers free of charge. These concerns soon led to Barclays halting its free software initiative, and prompted the NCSC to issue a warning against using Kasperky products at the government level.

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Before the year was out, the Trump administration later approved a law banning Kaspersky products across federal and military systems – an order over which Kaspersky unsuccessfully tried to sue the US government.

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The move catalysed a global shift in attitude towards the cyber security company. Following the announcement, Lithuania announced a similar ban, as did the Dutch government six months later. The EU officially branded Kaspersky “malicious” and the company, arguably, has since never managed to shake this onslaught of negative PR.

Its tainted image also hasn’t been helped by the fact that its CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, was a former member of the Russian military and was also educated by a KGB-sponsored school through which he earned a technical degree.

What does this mean for Kaspersky products?

With numerous strands to this tale, there’s a lot to unpack. What’s notable is the lack of evidence made public supporting the recent allegations against Kaspersky. Although the claims haven’t been substantiated publicly, governments often withhold such information on national security grounds.

It might also be argued this situation has been fuelled by longstanding geopolitical tensions between the US and its allies, and the Russian and Chinese governments. Both Kaspersky and Huawei were banned by the Trump administration on the basis of alleged ties to the Kremlin and the Chinese state respectively. The principles of these bans were eventually mirrored in domestic laws and initiatives elsewhere. Both the UK and US said Huawei’s infrastructure needed to be ripped out to preserve national security, while concerns around Kaspersky, as we’ve mentioned, go back to 2017 when the NCSC warned against using Kaspersky products at the government level – something it recently repeated in March 2022.

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Kaspersky defended itself when the US initially banned it in 2017, but it’s curious it didn’t launch legal action against the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper alleged it stole NSA hacking tools. You could argue that Kaspersky didn’t want to damage its reputation by taking on a well-respected member of the free press, but if the claims were wholly untrue, then you would expect it to follow up in some way on the grounds of defamation.

Without access to information or intelligence likely held back from the public, it’s difficult to say with certainty if Kaspersky products are safe to use, just as we cannot definitively say Huawei is trustworthy either. Governments, when pressed for proof, have been unwilling to provide it in either case. All we can say is it’s notable many Western governments have united in the calls against using Kaspersky products, although the firm has consistently denied any explicit links to the Russian state.

The legal obligation to comply with Russian government orders, though, is true – and a significant reason why cyber security agencies are, only now, warning businesses against using it. With more than 400 million users and 240,000 corporate clients, the legal requirement for a cyber security company as prevalent as Kaspersky to comply with Kremlin orders is, indeed, troubling, even if hypothetical or unlikely. Because of this, it might be wise to err on the side of caution.

  • antivirus
  • cyber warfare
  • enterprise security
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  • Kaspersky

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Should I drop Kaspersky? ›

It has over 400 million users and if you're one of them, you could be in danger. On Friday, the FCC added Kaspersky to its list of companies that pose an “unacceptable national security risk” to the U.S. If you're using Kaspersky, we recommend removing it from your computer.

Which is better Norton or Kaspersky? ›

Which is better: Norton or Kaspersky? Norton is a better option than Kaspersky antivirus since it doesn't limit the VPN traffic, gives more cloud storage, and even includes a password manager with its basic subscription. Additionally, its desktop and mobile apps are very user-friendly and easy to use.

Is McAfee better than Kaspersky? ›

In the malware test, Kaspersky recorded a 99.90 percent success rate at protecting a PC from malware. This score ranks Kaspersky in the middle tier of all antivirus brands analyzed in this test. In the Real World Protection test, McAfee also came out on top, protecting against 99.8 percent of online threats.

Is Kaspersky owned by Russia? ›

Is Kaspersky a Russian Company? There's no doubt that Kaspersky's founding in 1997 took place in Russia, nor that its co-founder and CEO Eugene (Евгений) Kaspersky is a Russian national. The company maintains a headquarters division in Moscow.

What is better than Kaspersky? ›

Ultimately, Bitdefender is a better antivirus service than Kaspersky.

Should I continue to use Kaspersky? ›

Overall, Kaspersky's antivirus engine is really good — it has a 100% perfect detection rate, with several types of scans to choose from, excellent real-time protection, and it doesn't slow down a system during a full system scan.

Should I uninstall Kaspersky before installing Norton? ›

It is best to scrub old antivirus application files if you are installing a new AV application from one brand to another. In Windows Control Panel, go to Programs and Features and uninstall the old AV application, and also search the old company's website to see if they offer for download a “stripping program”.

What company owns Kaspersky? ›

Founded in 2004, Kaspersky North America is a Massachusetts corporation and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of its holding company, Kaspersky's Limited, based in the United Kingdom. We are one of the world's largest privately owned cybersecurity companies [i].

Which is better Malwarebytes or Kaspersky? ›

Both Malwarebytes and Kaspersky provide all the necessary basic measures. But it's also plain to see that Malwarebytes is missing some important additional features like a firewall and webcam protection. Yet, it still offers some very useful extras like exploit protection, quarantined files, and a VPN.

Who owns Kaspersky security? ›

Yevgeny Valentinovich Kaspersky (Russian: Евгений Валентинович Касперский; born 4 October 1965) is a Russian cybersecurity expert and the CEO of Kaspersky Lab, an IT security company with 4,000 employees.

What is the warning about Kaspersky? ›

Why is Kaspersky banned? The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned Kaspersky because of concern that the company poses “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States.” The ban forbids companies from using FCC funds to purchase Kaspersky products.

Is Kaspersky affected by war in Ukraine? ›

The Ukraine war continues to cause problems for Kaspersky, a titan of the antivirus industry accused of having ties to Russian intelligence.

Is Kaspersky Ukrainian? ›

The war in Ukraine has created challenges for Kaspersky because it's based in Moscow, but says it has no ties to the Russian government. It's also helping businesses in Russia stay secure in the aftermath of U.S.-based cybersecurity firms pulling out of the country in response to the war.

What do I replace Kaspersky with? ›

Best Kaspersky alternatives in 2023
  • TotalAV – the best Kaspersky alternative overall. ...
  • Bitdefender – wallet-friendly Kaspersky alternative. ...
  • Norton Antivirus – one of the top Kaspersky competitors. ...
  • Avira – extremely user-friendly Kaspersky competitor. ...
  • Trend Micro – beginner-friendly Kaspersky alternative.

What is the best security system for my computer? ›

To help protect your Windows 11 or Windows 10 computer, here's our rating of the Best Antivirus Software of 2023:
  • #1 Bitdefender.
  • #2 Norton.
  • #3 Kaspersky.
  • #4 ESET.
  • #5 Webroot.
  • #5 Avast.
  • #5 McAfee.
  • #5 Trend Micro.

Which is the best total security antivirus? ›

Best Antivirus Software Of 2023
  • Featured Partner Offer.
  • The Best Antivirus Software of 2023.
  • Avira.
  • McAfee.
  • Kaspersky.
  • Avast.
  • Bitdefender.
  • Emsisoft.

Will Kaspersky remove existing viruses? ›

Protect your computer from malware with Kaspersky Antivirus, which automatically scans your computer to find threats. If your system has been infected by malware, our technology will remove it from your device and inform you.

Should I turn off Windows security if I have Kaspersky? ›

Do I need Windows Defender if I have Kaspersky Internet Security? No. In fact, like other antivirus solutions, Kaspersky will automatically disable Windows Defender when it's installed.

What happens when Kaspersky expires? ›

When the license expires and the grace period is over, the application continues to operate with limited functionality (for example, updates and Kaspersky Security Network become unavailable).

Is Windows Defender enough or do I need an antivirus? ›

Windows Defender scans a user's email, internet browser, cloud, and apps for the above cyberthreats. However, Windows Defender lacks endpoint protection and response, as well as automated investigation and remediation, so more antivirus software is necessary.

Does Kaspersky remove all malware? ›

Our advanced software automatically scans your computer to find threats, and if your system has been infected by malware, our technology will remove it from your device and inform you.

Is Kaspersky good at removing malware? ›

It also shows that Kaspersky detected 99.4 percent of zero-day malware attacks. The results of their macOS and Android tests showed similarly excellent results. Clearly, Kaspersky is more than decent when it comes to its core functions of detecting viruses and malware.

What happens if I uninstall Kaspersky? ›

After removing Kaspersky Small Office Security, your computer and personal data will be unprotected.

Does Kaspersky slow down system? ›

While it may protect your computer, this means that it is going to allow somebody info to hijack the passwords. Kaspersky has been recognized to slow down the performance of your computer. It's very recognizable, and you may even be able to tell when you are using a Kaspersky-protected computer system.

Does Kaspersky slow down my computer? ›

Kaspersky antivirus software is known to slow down a computer due to the fact that it scans the system on a regular basis and this scanning process is intensive and memory intensive. To avoid such a slow down, one can use the Kaspersky antivirus update only when it is needed or when there is a virus in the computer.

Can I trust Kaspersky now? ›

Kaspersky's malware scanner has been tested as recently as fall of 2022 by major testing labs. Such labs as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test showed that Kaspersky performed extremely well, capturing 100% of zero-day malware and 100% of widespread malware, with an excellent result of 0 false positives.

Is Kaspersky a Chinese company? ›

Kaspersky is the first Russian company listed. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the new designations "will help secure our networks from threats posed by Chinese and Russian state-backed entities seeking to engage in espionage and otherwise harm America's interests."

Is Kaspersky Chinese? ›

We are a private international company with the holding company domiciled in the UK. We transform our leading security intelligence into real protection for our clients.

Do you need Malwarebytes if you have Kaspersky Total security? ›

There is no need to use a second AV product in addition to Total Security. On the contrary, the two may interfere. But there is no reason not to use Malwarebytes for a second opinion from time to time.

Which is better Avast or Kaspersky? ›

Since both providers offer similar protection and a lot of features, Kaspersky proves that a quality service doesn't have to be expensive. So, when comparing the subscriptions and their prices, it's clear that Kaspersky offers much better value for money compared to Avast.

Do I need Malwarebytes if I have Kaspersky? ›

No, because they both have Antivirus functions. Two Antivirus programs will clash. One will slow your system down on it's own! If two anti-malware programs are installed, will one of them have to be turned off somehow so they won't interfere with each other (i.e Spybot vs Malwarebytes)?

Do companies use Kaspersky? ›

Kaspersky Anti-Virus is most often used by companies with 50-200 employees and 10M-50M dollars in revenue. Our data for Kaspersky Anti-Virus usage goes back as far as 7 years and 5 months. If you're interested in the companies that use Kaspersky Anti-Virus, you may want to check out McAfee SaaS and Trend Micro as well.

Is Kaspersky better than Bitdefender? ›

Overall, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus offers a bigger set of features than Kaspersky Anti-Virus right out of the box, even if Kaspersky's products are a bit better once you've paid extra. Winner: Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. Having a built-in file shredder and unlimited password manager give it the edge.

Is Kaspersky a virus or antivirus? ›

Kaspersky Anti-Virus features include real-time protection, detection and removal of viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, adware, keyloggers, malicious tools and auto-dialers, as well as detection and removal of rootkits.

Is Kaspersky slowing down my computer? ›

While it may protect your computer, this means that it is going to allow somebody info to hijack the passwords. Kaspersky has been recognized to slow down the performance of your computer. It's very recognizable, and you may even be able to tell when you are using a Kaspersky-protected computer system.

Can get rid of Kaspersky? ›

Open the Control Panel. See the Microsoft support website for instructions. Go to Programs and Features. Select your Kaspersky application and click Uninstall/Change.

Can Kaspersky detect spyware? ›

Kaspersky for Android will unmask any traitors, even if you have the free version. Because of the legally disputed status of stalkerware, many security solutions classify some problem apps as not-a-virus. You'll still get a warning about it, though, so always read antivirus alerts carefully.

Should I be worried about using Kaspersky? ›

Kaspersky's malware scanner has been tested as recently as fall of 2022 by major testing labs. Such labs as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test showed that Kaspersky performed extremely well, capturing 100% of zero-day malware and 100% of widespread malware, with an excellent result of 0 false positives.

Does Kaspersky stop Windows updates? ›

As was the case with Security Cloud Free the Kaspersky Free also blocks Windows Updates from installing.

Does Kaspersky drain battery? ›

What does Kaspersky Battery Life do? Kaspersky Battery Life is a small app for Android that consumes no more than 1% of the battery charge and at the same time monitors which running applications are draining the battery the most and stops them if necessary.

Does Kaspersky stop hackers? ›

Yes, antivirus software is a crucial part of protecting our digital security and, ultimately, defending ourselves against hackers. Antivirus immunizes our computers against unauthorized software or coding that can threaten our operating system and, most importantly, our personal data.

How long does Kaspersky last? ›

A subscription can be limited (for one year, for example) or unlimited (without an expiration date). To keep Kaspersky Internet Security working after a limited subscription expires, you have to renew it manually.

How do I remove Kaspersky virus from my computer? ›

If your PC has a virus, following these ten simple steps will help you to get rid of it:
  1. Step 1: Download and install a virus scanner. ...
  2. Step 2: Disconnect from internet. ...
  3. Step 3: Reboot your computer into safe mode. ...
  4. Step 4: Delete any temporary files. ...
  5. Step 5: Run a virus scan. ...
  6. Step 6: Delete or quarantine the virus.

Can Kaspersky see my passwords? ›

We do not collect or store your passwords. Learn more

Trying out all possible combinations of characters until the “correct answer” is found. This process can take a very long time, so dictionaries and lists of common passwords like "qwerty" or "123456" are usually used.

Can Kaspersky detect phishing? ›

The application detects phishing, spoofing and malicious links according to the detection rules developed by the Kaspersky experts. Kaspersky regularly updates rules and methods of detecting phishing and malicious links.

What to do if Kaspersky detected Trojan? ›

Reboot your computer into 'Safe Mode' Delete any temporary files using 'Disk Clean Up' Run the on-demand scan in Kaspersky Anti-Virus and follow the instructions given. If malware is found, delete or quarantine the file.


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