Best Buy Will No Longer Sell Kaspersky Antivirus

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Best Buy and Kaspersky Labs have called it quits, following reports that the popular antivirus company might be working closely with Russian intelligence. The software company confirmed the falling out in a statement, saying:

Kaspersky Lab and Best Buy have suspended their relationship at this time; however, the relationship may be re-evaluated in the future. Kaspersky Lab has enjoyed an almost decade-long partnership with Best Buy and its customer base, and the company will continue to offer its industry-leading cybersecurity solutions to consumers through its website and other retailers.

The Best Buy-Kaspersky dissolution comes after several months of growing suspicion about just how cozy the antivirus company is with the Russian intelligence service. In a larger sense, however, these reports have been building for years. A 2012 report from Bloomberg discussed founder Eugene Kaspersky’s ties to the Russian FSB and his background in KGB-sponsored cryptography research. It also discussed how the firm fired a number of high-level managers that year, replacing them with individuals with close ties to Russian intelligence.

Kaspersky

Kaspersky Total Security, the company’s flagship product.

At the time, Bloomberg wrote that the FSB actively relied on Kaspersky to provide information critical to ongoing investigations, and that Eugene Kaspersky meets with Russian intelligence officials on a weekly basis. While there are similarities to how US companies have been required to cooperate with the NSA in the post-9/11 era, no one has argued that Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google fired top-level management and replaced them with NSA employees as a way to foster closer ties between themselves and the US government. Leaked emails also showed that Kaspersky seeded the website VirusTotal with false positives, to push other antivirus vendors to adjust their software in ways that would ultimately be detrimental to the product.

In more recent news, multiple US intelligence agencies have stated they no longer trust and do not use or recommend using Kaspersky Lab products. Congress asked for a full report on how Kaspersky Lab products are used across the government in July; Best Buy’s decision to terminate its relationship with Kaspersky appears to have been the result of growing concern about the chummy relationship between the Russian government and the software company. The specifics of why the US intelligence community had soured on Kaspersky Labs remain undisclosed, so it’s impossible to know if the loss of confidence is related to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election or is unrelated to that effort. The Trump Administration has removed Kaspersky from its list of approved government vendors and the FBI interviewed several Kaspersky Labs employees earlier this summer.

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