On Tuesday, Eugene Kaspersky announced the launch of Kaspersky Free, a free version of its antivirus software. The suite has the “bare essentials” of online protection according to the CEO, and it will roll out progressively around the globe in the coming months.
Kaspersky Free arrives in the face of harsh criticisms against Microsoft and Windows Defender by the Russian cyber security firm. The head of the software developer has accused the Redmond giant of monopolizing the industry and using dirty tactics to favor their solutions instead of those developed by third parties.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the government and the media see with increasing concerns the sustained usage of Kaspersky protection even against their own advice. Some research suggests that the software might host backdoors for the FSB to spy on computers.
What does Kaspersky Free have to offer?
The new Kaspersky Free, as the CEO of the firm himself, puts it, is “a version with all the bare essentials” of digital security. It provides virus protection for files, emails, and web browsing, and its self-defense system updates automatically.
It is not that different from other freebie versions from rival software makers, but Kaspersky does have the edge on its competitors regarding threat detection and neutralization according to independent tests.
These standard functionalities, like quarantine, are present as well in the free antivirus. Anti-phishing systems and safe portable storage unit usage are also among the features you get for free.
Kaspersky Labs claims their free product is lighter and safer than that of the competition, and that all users of their software, no matter free or paid, will benefit from the data collected through this new influx of users adopting the recently launched service.
Kaspersky raises suspicions of Russian espionage
However, in spite of all the promises of protection that Eugene Kaspersky has made, other people have been wary of his extravagant persona and equally edgy claims about his antivirus. Government officials in the U.S. seem to believe the cyber security expert is covertly running an operation for Russia’s FSB.
The executive has denied this in the past, as well as all allegations tying him or his company to the Russian government and their infamous cyber misdeeds. This link remains to be proven with hard evidence, but suspicions have been strong enough to prompt actions just as hard.
Concretely, the General Services Administration has blacklisted Kaspersky from the approved list of vendors that can make business with government offices in the United States, meaning the Russian firm can no longer license its antivirus to any entities linked to Washington.
Still, some offices remain oblivious to the warnings that running Kaspersky software in their computers could make them vulnerable to cyber espionage and even worse threats from the Moscow-based company.