British spy chiefs are concerned that the widely used Kaspersky anti-virus software may be being used as an intelligence-gathering tool by the Russian government, according to the Financial Times.

This follows September’s news that the US Department of Homeland Security banned Kaspersky from all US government agencies, claiming that the software had been used by Russian agencies to hack sensitive information. And Barclays Bank, which has offered Kaspersky free to customers, is now seeking to end the arrangement, although it insists that this is for commercial reasons only.

Kaspersky has vigorously denied the claims. But if you are a small business in the UK, should you take the precaution of removing the software from your system?

‘If your business stores sensitive data or has intellectual property that might be interesting or useful to the Russian government, then removing Kaspersky would be a sensible decision,’ said Barrie Giles, Firstline IT Managing Director. ‘Considering the potential risk, and weighing it against the ease of moving to another anti-virus software, it really is a no-brainer.’

But if Russian government interference is not high on your list of threats, and you already have Kaspersky, then removing it is not a priority. Bear in mind that all anti-virus software can legitimately see everything that’s happening on your machine, because that’s how it works. It is only a concern if you are worried about who else can see that information.

At Firstline IT we have always recommended Sophos, an English company headquartered in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

If you are setting up anti-virus software for the first time, or reviewing all your software and systems, the key question is ‘whom do you trust?’ For objective advice and further discussion about your cyber-security needs, request a callback.