Electronics retailer Best Buy will no longer sell security software from Russian internet security company Kaspersky Lab after concerns that the company could be unduly influenced by the Russian government.
This summer, the Moscow-based cybersecurity company has faced a series of allegations that it could be influenced by the Kremlin. During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May, the heads of the six major US intelligence agencies all said that they wouldn’t be comfortable with the software being used on their computers. In July, the US Senate Armed Services Committee specifically proposed prohibiting the Department of Defense from utilizing Kaspersky Lab products, “due to reports that the Moscow-based company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence,” while the Committee on Science, Space and Technology for the US House of Representatives requested that all 22 government agencies share their documentation and communications regarding the company, according to a report from Reuters.
This could be troubling news for consumers, because the product is widely used, according to an article on NPR. Because of those concerns, Best Buy decided to stop selling the product, a “decision prompted by media reports, congressional testimony, and industry discussion,” according to the Star Tribune, and that while the company didn’t conduct a formal investigation, it “felt there were too many unanswered questions” concerning it. A Best Buy spokesperson told The Verge in an email that the Tribune’s article is accurate, but wouldn’t comment further on specific vendors. The company will allow customers who have purchased the software or who have active subscriptions to exchange it for another product within the next 45 days.
Kaspersky Lab has denied these reports, saying that it is caught in the midst of an international geopolitical battle, and that it “has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts.” The company noted that the decision to remove the product from Best Buy’s shelves could be reevaluated down the road, and that it can still be found at other retails such as Amazon or Walmart.