US slaps sanctions on leaders of Russia software firm Kaspersky


(MENAFN- AFP)

The United States unveiled sanctions Friday against 12 top leaders of the Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, a day after banning the sale of its popular antivirus software on national security grounds.

The widespread sanctions target many of Kaspersky Lab's most senior leaders, including its chief operating officer, while sparing the chief executive and the company itself, the Treasury Department said in a statement announcing the designation.

"Today's action against the leadership of Kaspersky Lab underscores our commitment to ensure the integrity of our cyber domain and to protect our citizens against malicious cyber threats," US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian Nelson said.

"The United States will take action where necessary to hold accountable those who would seek to facilitate or otherwise enable these activities," he added.

In a separate statement, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the company was subject to the "jurisdiction, control, or direction of the Russian government, which could exploit the privileged access to obtain sensitive data."

This poses "an unacceptable risk to US national security or the safety and security of U.S. persons," he added.

The Treasury sanctions come a day after the Commerce Department announced it was banning the Moscow-headquartered cybersecurity firm from providing its popular antivirus products in the US.

That announcement came after a lengthy investigation which, the Commerce Department said, found that Kaspersky's "continued operations in the United States presented a national security risk due to the Russian Government's offensive cyber capabilities and capacity to influence or direct Kaspersky's operations."

Kaspersky, in a statement to AFP, vowed to "pursue all legally available options to preserve its current operations and relationships," adding it "does not engage in activities which threaten US national security."

Friday's designation targeted many of the company's most senior officials, including the company's long-serving chief operating officer, Andrei Tikhonov, and its chief legal officer, Igor Chekhunov, the Treasury Department said.

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AFP

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