Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs will wind down its free virtual private network (VPN) service in Russia today. The company
Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs will wind down its free virtual private network (VPN) service in Russia today.
The company will withdraw its paid services by the end of 2022. VPNs are an important method for Russian citizens to gain access to restricted websites and information. The Russian government employs an aggressive system of internet censorship and surveillance in order to control its citizens and shape public opinion. Free access to information is increasingly important following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Russian government’s subsequent propaganda campaign.
The U.S. identified Kaspersky Labs as a potential national security threat due to its alleged ties to the Russian government. The shuttering of its VPN service is likely a result of pressure from the Russian government amid its desire to restrict non-governmentally controlled information. Control of the narrative is particularly important given the mobilization of Russian reservists in order to support their military operations in Ukraine. The loss of Kaspersky’s VPN service will likely have minimal impact on Russians’ access to information given the broad range of non-Russian VPN services available. Nevertheless, Kaspersky’s actions reflect the increasingly hostile environment for Russia internet service providers.