Pentagon may ban Kaspersky AV line

Kaspersky Logo

Bloomberg and others are reporting that the federal government is concerned about the widespread use of Russia-based Kaspersky Lab‘s antivirus products, which have been in widespread use around the world for almost two decades. High-ranking U.S. officials, including current acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who both gave congressional testimony related to Kaspersky, have voiced their concerns even going so far as to say they would not feel comfortable using the product in their own homes.

Times have certainly changed. I have used Kaspersky extensively over the years and never had an issue with it, nor any reason to suspect that, because of its being developed in Russia, it was anything other than an effective AV product. Speaking of which, it really is, at least in my personal experience, and apparently that of others; it’s very well-regarded. Tom’s Hardware lists it in their #2 and #3 spot of best AV products for 2017. lists it as their #5 choice. Windows Central has it as #3. Howtogeek noted it, along with BitDefender, found 100 percent of threats and even lists it as ‘the absolute best.’ Even MacWorld lists it as #5 for Mac protection. Their Wikipedia page, a site to which I am usually loathe to link, lists a slew of additional achievements and accolades. I have recommended it for years and have never balked once at doing so. Perhaps I’m not enough of a conspiracy theorist, maybe I should be more of one, but I find it hard to believe a company with almost half a billion users worldwide, the respect of the computing community, and the list of accomplishments it has as a product and company, would compromise their robust integrity by colluding with a nation of any sort, not just Russian.

On the other hand, as much as it hurts me to say it, such are the times in which we live. In the video on this ABC News page, which incidentally is where you can see brief bits of the FBI and National Intelligence Directors giving their congressional testimony, is an image of Kaspersky founder Eugene Kaspersky with Vladimir Putin. I personally don’t think that’s an indicator of anything; many business people meet with members of their respective governments, and others, all the time. To me personally, absolutely nothing stands out about this picture. No evidence has been provided as to why exactly Kaspersky now suddenly poses a threat, other than the current political climate.  As all my students know, I never allow politics to seep into my classes unless it is absolutely necessary, however, we are where we are at this moment in history, and Kaspersky is an enormous juggernaut of a (Russian) company. Although they have offered to turn over their source code in an effort to prove their legitimacy, I suppose the security machine here in the States would like to be safe rather than sorry.

I, on the other hand, being the eternal optimist that I try to be, will for now continue to recommend them and hope they have not been compromised by political pressure. If you are concerned, there are many, many other options from which to choose. The aforementioned and previously linked BitDefender is solid, as is Avast, I’m not a huge fan of AVG, another long-time stalwart that I used to use in the past, but it does work well, overall, and its reviews are generally strong.

Continuing on the security thing, you should also use a dedicated anti-malware package, and nothing equals MalwareBytes. I use it on Mac, PC, and mobile, and recommend running it daily; bad things can happen in an instant.