US government sanctions Kaspersky executives

The US announced that it will impose sanctions on 12 executives of Russia-based cyber security giant Kaspersky. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that 12 company executives were tasked with protecting internet users against malicious cyber threats. Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said: “The decision against Kaspersky Lab leadership underscores our commitment to ensuring the integrity of our cyberspace and protecting our citizens against malicious cyber threats. The United States will take action as necessary to hold accountable those who facilitate or otherwise enable these activities.”

The list of sanctioned individuals includes several Kaspersky board members, including Andrei Anatolyevich Efremov, Kaspersky’s head of business development, and Igor Gennadyevich Chekunov, who serves as the company’s chief legal officer. Also sanctioned are Kaspersky’s global human resources chief Marina Mikhaylovna Alekseev, the company’s head of communications Denis Vladimirovich Zenkin and chief technology officer Anton Mikhaylovich Ivanov.

OFAC noted that it did not sanction Kaspersky, its parent or subsidiary companies, or its founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky.

The sanctions come a day after the US government announced a first-of-its-kind ban on the sale of Kaspersky software in the US, which will take effect on 20 July. Kaspersky will still be able to provide software updates to existing customers, but only until 29 September. After that date, US customers still using Kaspersky will not be able to receive updates, making their antivirus software outdated and potentially unable to stop the latest cybersecurity threats.

Kaspersky spokesman Sawyer VanHorn said the company would appeal the ban.

In September 2017, then US President Donald Trump’s administration banned the company’s software from use in government agencies. Earlier that year, Russian government hackers reportedly stole classified US documents from an intelligence contractor’s home computer, which was running Kaspersky’s antivirus software at the time.

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