(Bloomberg View) — Is the U.S. government's ban on the products of Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-headquartered global cybersecurity company founded by Russians, a reasonable precaution or brazen protectionism? It's possible to argue either case. But whether the ban is justified is less important in the grand scheme of things than what it does to the borderless nature of the cybersecurity industry and the tech industry as a whole.
The precautionary argument is laid out persuasively in the Department of Homeland Security statement. The DHS says that "Kaspersky anti-virus products and solutions provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed." That's undeniably true. It also says the Russian government could "request or compel assistance" from Kaspersky; that, too, is true as far as it goes: The Kremlin can put any amount of pressure on any company with sizable Russian operations, and Kaspersky is one such company.
See also: Kaspersky Lab Offers Source Code to U.S. Government
Kaspersky Lab has offered to let the U.S. inspect its source code, but any such inspection could miss backdoors, and the source code could be changed afterwards. The U.S. government could test Kaspersky's products by putting them on a "honey server" and watching if any malicious activity ensues — but what if the Russian government is saving the Kaspersky weapon for some
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