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Canada Bans Kaspersky, WeChat On Govt Devices Suspecting Spying

by Abeerah Hashim

The Government of Canada officially bans using WeChat and Kaspersky apps on government devices, citing privacy risks. Users can no longer download the apps on government-issued mobile devices.

Canada Bans Kaspersky And WeChat

According to a recent press release from the Government of Canada, the authorities now prohibit using Kaspersky and WeChat applications on government-issued devices.

Specifically, Canada not only bans Kaspersky and WeChat but also removes the two applications from all devices where they are found installed, barring users from downloading these apps in the future.

The Canadian government took this decision after detecting potential privacy and security risks with these apps. They suspect that the apps gather device data by gaining “considerable access” to the contents, particularly when installed on mobile devices.

The ban went into effect on October 30, 2023 – the same day the Canadian Government announced this step. This urgency suggests the severity of the threat level the authorities suspect. Nonetheless, they assured the security and integrity of the Government of Canada’s networks, systems, and data.

While this ban typically applies to Canadian government officials, the state advises the public to remain cautious regarding their security.

Kaspersky Expresses “Disappointment” Over Canada’s Ban

Responding to the recent bans from Canada, Kaspersky issued a detailed statement expressing its disappointment. The firm debunked the claims regarding espionage and its possible link with the Russian government. Also, it deemed this step as a “response to the geopolitical climate” instead of a security measure.

As there has been no evidence or due process to otherwise justify these actions, they are highly unsupported and a response to the geopolitical climate rather than a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services.

WeChat is a popular messaging app from the Chinese firm Tencent, whereas Kaspersky is a Russian anti-malware service from the cybersecurity provider Kaspersky Lab. While both these apps seem legit, they often face backlash from the US, UK, and European countries for suspected state-backed espionage.

For instance, in 2020, the US Department of Commerce banned WeChat and TikTok (another popular social media app of Chinese origin) transactions, citing security concerns. Even before that, in 2017, the US government banned the use of Kaspersky Lab products on government systems. However, both services have almost always refuted such claims, assuring their private existence.

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