Home Tech The problem the US TikTok crackdown and the Kaspersky ban have in common

The problem the US TikTok crackdown and the Kaspersky ban have in common

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The problem the US TikTok crackdown and the Kaspersky ban have in common

On July 20, the U.S. Department of Commerce will ban new sales of popular antivirus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs. The move comes just two months after U.S. President Joe Biden signed a law that will effectively ban social media app TikTok in the United States if its Chinese parent company does not sell it. The U.S. government banned federal use of Kaspersky’s antivirus software in 2017, but as the U.S.-Russian relationship has further deteriorated and the Kremlin has exerted tighter control over the Russian tech sector, U.S. officials have remained concerned about the potential for Kaspersky’s software to be weaponized by the Russian government.

However, in its campaigns to ban these foreign computer programs as a matter of national security, the US government is setting a precedent that undermines the principles of a free and open Internet in which users can access any information and software they choose. .

“The risks to U.S. national security addressed in this Final Determination arise not from whether Kaspersky products are effective in identifying viruses and other malware, but rather from whether they can be strategically used to cause harm to the United States,” the Commerce Department said. wrote last week. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters Tuesday that this is the first time the U.S. Department of Commerce has banned the sale of a cybersecurity product.

Kaspersky, naturally, countered The company believes the Commerce Department “made its decision based on the current geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns, rather than a thorough assessment of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services.” The company added that “Kaspersky does not engage in activities that threaten U.S. national security and has, in fact, made significant contributions through its reporting and protection against a variety of threat actors targeting U.S. interests and allies.”

Meanwhile, TikTok has sued the US government, alleging that the potential ban on its app violates the First Amendment. The lawsuit notes that U.S. lawmakers are forcing TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, to sell TikTok to a U.S.-based company based on “the hypothetical possibility that TikTok could be misused in the future, without citing specific evidence.”

Unlike TikTok, a social media app created as a forum for discussion and can be downloaded for free, Kaspersky’s antivirus product is paid software that is given deep system access to monitor devices and networks. of clients. While TikTok’s software is contained in the mobile operating systems it runs on, scanners like Kaspersky are given free rein by design, raising cybersecurity concerns.

“The apps are fundamentally different,” says Patrick Wardle, a longtime Mac security researcher. “If a person of interest had both Kaspersky and TikTok antivirus on their device, Kaspersky would likely be the bigger problem, because it can give its developer unrestricted access to the device. A mobile app like TikTok runs in an app sandbox and can’t really do much more than grant it access to specific data, like your contacts.”

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