Europe, Asia Pacific, Content, Endpoint/Device Security

Kaspersky Security Software: Will MSPs Choose Sides Amid International Pushback?

Europe from space at night with city lights showing European cities in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom (UK), global overview, 3d rendering of planet Earth, elements from NASA

MSPs that partner with Kaspersky continue to face growing question marks on multiple continents. Indeed, five European Union (EU) member nations want to ban Kaspersky's security products amid proposed sanctions against Russia that could impact Russia-founded companies, Bloomberg reported.

Critics have long alleged that Kaspersky has ties to Russia's government. Kaspersky has repeatedly and firmly denied the allegations. Still, the pressure points facing Kaspersky and its MSP partners include these industry developments:

  • September 23, 2022: Poland, Ireland and three Baltic nations want to ban Kaspersky's software within the European Union, Bloomberg reported.
  • April 8, 2022: Telecom and IT services giant NTT said it may stop using Kaspersky's software and will "consider switching to an alternative product at a reasonable time in the future," The Japan Times reported.
  • April 6, 2022: MSP software provider Kaseya ended its anti-virus partnership with Kaspersky, CRN reported.
  • March 25, 2022: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) added Kaspersky to its list of communications equipment and services deemed a threat to U.S. national security. That same day, HackerOne disabled Kaspersky from using its bug bounty platform.
  • March 22, 2022: Australia and New Zealand distributor Dicker Data canceled a partnership with Kaspersky, The Australian Financial Review reported. Dicker Data Chief Operating Officer Vladimir Mitnovetski is of Ukrainian heritage, and that weighed into the distributor's decision, the report said.
  • March 18, 2022: Italy's public authorities must replace Kaspersky's software with alternative security products in order to "prevent any disruption of services due to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict," according to a draft decree seen by Reuters. Also, Ferrari's Formula One team halted a sponsor relationship with the software maker.
  • March 15, 2022: Germany's cyber security agency warned Kaspersky users that the software poses a serious risk of a successful hacking attack, Reuters noted.
  • February 2022: The U.S. government began privately warning some American companies the day after Russia invaded Ukraine that Moscow could manipulate software designed by Kaspersky to cause harm, Reuters reported on March 31, 2022. Kaspersky has repeatedly denied such claims.

Those moves surfaced amid Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine. The war, triggered by Russia, has reignited concerns that Kaspersky could have undisclosed ties to Russia's government. Those concerns made major headlines back in 2017, when the U.S. government ordered federal agencies to remove Kaspersky's software from federal networks.

Kaspersky Statements, MSP Partner Ecosystem Details

Kaspersky has repeatedly and consistently denied allegations that the company has ties to Russia's government. To further address the concerns, Kaspersky maintains a Transparency Center -- where partners and customers can review the company's code, software updates, threat detection rules and other technical and business processes. And in March 2022, Kaspersky offered this statement in response to government concerns in Germany.

Meanwhile, Kaspersky's MSP partner program has been in growth mode -- though we don't know if or how Russia's war against Ukraine will impact that business.

Kaspersky's sales through MSPs grew 75 percent in 2021 vs. 2020, according to a January 2022 statement from the company. The overall partner program features a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription payment plan, and a License Management Portal for partners, the company noted at the time.

Decision Day for MSPs and MSSPs In Italy

Take a closer look, and you'll notice that Italy was one of Kaspersky's fastest-growing regions for MSP partners in 2021, the company indicated. Now, Italy's government has raised concerns about the use of such software. Will be watching to see if MSPs remain loyal to the software -- and whether some MSSPs help Italian agencies to remove the software.

Blog originally published March 21, 2022. Updated regularly thereafter.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.