Germany warns against installation of Russian-owned Kaspersky antivirus

It might not be safe.

Kaspersky bear logo
Image via Kaspersky

Germany’s cybersecurity agency has warned users against using Kaspersky Antivirus. The country’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) advised its citizens not to use the Russian-owned antivirus, noting security concerns over its reliability and claims it can be used for cyber-attacks against them.

The BSI said that “A Russian IT manufacturer can carry out offensive operations itself, be forced against its will to attack target systems, or be spied on as a victim of a cyber operation without its knowledge or as a tool for attacks against its own customers.” It also advises Kaspersky users to switch to more trusted alternatives to avoid getting hacked.

Kaspersky rebutted the BSI’s claims, saying it’s untrue and politically motivated because of the ongoing war in Ukraine and that the company is private and doesn’t have any government connections. A company spokesman said “We believe this decision is not based on a technical assessment of Kaspersky products – that we continuously advocated for with the BSI and across Europe – but instead is being made on political grounds… Kaspersky is a private global cybersecurity company and, as a private company, does not have any ties to the Russian or any other government.”

It’s not the first time that spying allegations have been made against Kaspersky. The company moved its data center to neutral Switzerland in 2018 to soothe government fears of it being a Russian-backed hacking tool. Countries like the US, UK, and the Netherlands, however, still banned the antivirus from government contracts because of security risks.

With the war in Ukraine causing so much uncertainty, it’s not surprising that Germany is taking measures to protect itself from possible cyber-attacks. Kaspersky is facing the brunt of the backlash and is doing its best to distance itself from the war. In a recent Tweet, its founder Eugene Kaspersky said “We welcome the start of negotiations to resolve the current situation in Ukraine and hope that they will lead to a cessation of hostilities and a compromise. We believe that peaceful dialogue is the only possible instrument for resolving conflicts. War isn’t good for anyone.”