Both Office Depot and Best Buy have removed Kaspersky Lab products from shelves. The ban has been in effect since mid-September, and the two chains are offering existing Kaspersky customers replacement security software.
A friend found this. Wow. pic.twitter.com/STJcSdzCLb— Gadi Evron (@gadievron) October 8, 2017
The first store to remove Kaspersky products from shelves was Best Buy, on around September 8. At the time, the FBI was pressuring the private sector to cut ties with the Russian antivirus maker, which was the subject of a Senate Intelligence Committee on the suspicion it may be collaborating with Russian intelligence agencies. Kaspersky vehemently denied all accusations.
A week after Best Buy removed Kaspersky products from shelves, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Binding Operational Directive published ordering the removal of Kaspersky Lab products off government computers.
A day later, Office Depot announced a similar decision to ban the sale of Kaspersky products in its stores.
The two companies are running similar offers to have support staff remove Kaspersky products from customers' PCs.
Best Buy also said it would allow customers with active Kaspersky subscriptions to replace it for free for another product. Best Buy customers have 45 days to take up the company's offer. Interested readers should check with their local Best Buy stores for the exact expiration date.
Office Depot is giving customers a similar deal until November 4. The difference is that customers will be able to exchange Kaspersky with a one year license for McAfee LiveSafe only, and not a product of their choosing.
Last week, the Russian red scare reached its peak in the US, when a controversial Wall Street Journal article claimed that Russian hackers stole NSA files after identifying them using Kaspersky software.
The article — based on anonymous source — was torn to pieces by security professionals, who pointed out that the real problem was an NSA employee taking NSA malware home and storing it on his personal computer, where Kaspersky software was installed.
Many argued that the Kaspersky antivirus was only doing its job by identifying and flagging potential malware — in this case, NSA hacking tools — and that the real guilty party, in this case, should be the NSA, which still can't stop contractors from walking out the door with sensitive cyber weapons. This leak comes after similar incidents such as Snowden, the Shadow Brokers, Harold Martin, and Reality Winner.
The US' crackdown on Kaspersky also comes after Russian authorities have been banning or threatening to ban US companies, and have been forcing some to take source code audits before being allowed to sell products in Russia. For example, HPE recently agreed to allow Russia to audit the source code of the same security platform used by the Pentagon. Many fear that the source code audits may allow Russian intelligence to spot vulnerabilities it can weaponize against the US.
Experts say that Kaspersky, LinkedIn, and other companies are just the victims of rising political tensions between Russia and the US.