Is it safe to use Russian Kaspersky antivirus? No, and this is why

You must have antivirus software on your devices to protect against malware and phishing attacks. But there are now fears that the Kremlin could turn one of Russia’s most popular antivirus programs into a war tool. As Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to invade Ukraine, there are alarming signs that the battle could shift from ground forces to cyber-attacks.

This means that you have to watch out for bad actors who want to get you. Some time ago, a German intelligence agency raised concerns about Kaspersky, a cybersecurity company headquartered in Moscow. It has over 400 million users and if you are one of them you may be at risk.

On Friday, the FCC said Kaspersky poses an unacceptable national security risk to the US. If you use Kaspersky, it can install a keylogger, use your internet connection and systems for a denial of service attack, steal your passwords or worse. As the war between Russia and Ukraine flares up, Kim recommends removing all Kaspersky products from your devices.

Here’s the backstory

Full disclosure: Kaspersky was previously an advertiser on “The Kim Komando Show”. That relationship ended years ago after the US government banned the software in federal systems, citing links to the Russian government.

There are many antivirus programs to choose from, but nearly half a billion users worldwide use Kaspersky to keep them virus-free. The private company started 25 years ago and its headquarters are located in Moscow, Russia.

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Although Kaspersky operates under a holding company in the UK, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has warned against the use of Kaspersky products. The German agency says the Russian government could use Kaspersky’s IT infrastructure “as a tool for attacks on its customers”.

In a blog post, the BSI outlines the dangers of using a company based in Moscow. As sanctions against the country mount, several individuals close to Putin have had their global assets frozen. Hundreds of companies refuse to continue their activities.

The software is not currently banned in Germany, but former US President Trump signed legislation in 2017 banning government departments from using Kaspersky products.

Although the BSI indicates that consumers are at the lowest risk of a cyber attack, if Kaspersky itself is the victim of a cyber attack, you could be the victim of collateral damage. Your data could fall into the wrong hands due to a cyber attack.

What can you do about it?

Kaspersky’s antivirus products are used by millions of people worldwide and could theoretically lead to one of the most important cyber attacks in history.

While BSI’s warning may be considered exaggerated, they are not alone. The Italian Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) took part in the call for “an analysis of the risk arising from the IT security solutions”, developed in Russia.

In light of the real possibility of cyber warfare, it is always better to exercise caution. Here’s how to uninstall Kaspersky applications if you have them on your Windows computer:

Right-click the Kaspersky icon in the taskbar and select Exit. Then right-click on the Start button and click on Apps and Features. Scroll through the list of installed programs and click on your Kaspersky product. Click Uninstall. Depending on your settings, the app may require your My Kaspersky account password to continue. Then you need to select which data to save if you want to use the product later. Click the check boxes and then click Next. If you want to remove the application completely, leave the check boxes empty. After the uninstallation process is complete, click Yes to restart your computer.

If you are working from a Mac computer, you need to do the following:

First, open your Kaspersky app. Click Help in the top left corner of your screen. Select Support there. Click Delete. A pop-up will appear asking, “Are you sure you want to remove Kaspersky Internet Security from this Mac?” Confirm by clicking Delete. Enter your login details and click OK. Once the uninstallation is complete, click Exit.

Now it’s time to remove Kaspersky apps from your phone

To delete the apps from an iPhone, follow these steps:

Tap and hold an app, then tap Uninstall app > Uninstall app > Uninstall. You can also use the App Library, introduced in iOS 14, to get a curated list of your apps, grouped by category. Swipe past the last page of your home screen to access it. Tap and hold the app, then select Uninstall app > Uninstall.

Follow these steps to remove Kaspersky products from your Android:

Long press an app, then tap App info > Uninstall. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications to see a list of your apps and uninstall them in the same way. Or you can open the Google Play Store app and go to Menu > My apps & games. Tap the app and click Uninstall. Note: Samsung and OnePlus phones have an Uninstall option under the app quick menu.

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