US sanctions Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab executives, leaders over cyber risks

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The United States slapped sanctions on 12 people in leadership roles at AO Kaspersky Labs on Friday, citing cybersecurity risks a day after the Biden administration announced plans to bar the sale of the Russian company’s antivirus software.

AO Kaspersky is one of two Russian units of Kaspersky Lab placed on a Commerce trade-restriction list on Thursday for allegedly cooperating with Russian military intelligence to support Moscow’s cyber-intelligence goals.

The Treasury Department did not designate Kaspersky Lab, its parent or subsidiary companies or its Chief Executive, Eugene Kaspersky.

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The sanctions targeted company leadership including the chief business development officer, chief operating officer, legal officer, corporate communications chief and others.

Kaspersky software’s privileged access to a computer’s systems could allow it to steal sensitive information from American computers or install malware and withhold critical updates, enhancing the threat, a source told Reuters previously, noting that Kaspersky’s customers include critical infrastructure providers and state and local governments.

“Russia has shown it has the capacity and... the intent to exploit Russian companies like Kaspersky to collect and weaponize the personal information of Americans and that is why we are compelled to take the action that we are taking today,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a briefing call with reporters this week.

A Kaspersky representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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