China bans Symantec and Kaspersky from providing software to government

In recent weeks, the Russian government has been taking steps to discourage the use of foreign software – including the likes of Microsoft’s Windows and Office – in favour of using home-grown software solutions. But Russia isn’t the only country that’s making moves to limit its use of international software.

China’s largest newspaper group, the state-controlled People’s Daily, reports that the agency responsible for government software procurement has barred two of the world’s leading antivirus developers – American firm Symantec, and Kaspersky Lab from Russia – from a list of approved software vendors.

The only five companies that made it onto the list are all Chinese: Qihoo 360 Technology Co, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin and Rising. As Reuters reports, this move is the latest indicator of China's focus upon restricting its use of foreign software. In May, China’s Central Government Procurement Center banned Windows 8 from its list of approved software.

Some interpreted this as a retaliation against the United States, after the US government brought criminal charges for economic and cyber espionage against five members of the Chinese military. However, the fact that Russia’s Kaspersky has now been excluded from this more recent list too suggests that China is intent on increasingly favouring its own software solutions over those provided by foreign companies.

A Kaspersky spokesperson told Reuters that the company is “investigating and engaging in conversations with Chinese authorities about this matter. It is too premature to go into any additional details at this time.”

Although Symantec has not commented on this latest turn of events, China’s government barred its data loss prevention software from official use last month. A Symantec spokesperson said at the time that the company did not anticipate a ban on its antivirus product there. 

Source: People's Daily / Reuters | Chinese flag button on keyboard image via Shutterstock

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One reason I would imagine for this is that domestic anti-malware companies have to respond to lawful request from the Chinese government to avoid detecting programs or other objects which that government does not wish to have detected.


Aryeh Goretsky

Let's face it they want to ban everything from the US. Software and hardware. Why do they need it when they have copied it all anyway.

This doesn`t surprise me allthough the fact Baidu isn`t on the approved list does! AV software by its very nature hooks deep into the system and runs most of it`s code with the highest priviliges possible so if an exploit is found and used in the AV software it can be pretty much game over without anyone even knowing!
Some AV programs don`t use basic windows protections (such as ASLR, DEP) for some of their executables.

They do know that by banning the use of industry standard software, although Symantec is not one of them, they are alienating themselves from the rest of the world and possibly harming their economy?

They don't want these for the same reason I wouldn't install some Chinese software like Baidu Antivirus. You'd have to be crazy to put that on your system.


I believe Baidu licenses its anti-malware engine from another company (Avira or BitDefender) so, as such, it would probably be under the same embargo.


Aryeh Goretsky

protectionist moves :/ i read couple of days back that qualcomm has been blocked as well. . time to drag china to arbitration courts

guru said,
protectionist moves :/ i read couple of days back that qualcomm has been blocked as well. . time to drag china to arbitration courts

for what exactly?
these software had NSA access, and NSA is US agency, so nothing wrong with other gov. to say no to such bad behaviour... wasn't US crying about Chinese doing that just before being found out? Hypocrisy?

Doesn't surprise me one little bit. Most of these antivirus vendors routinely flag and remove programs that are NOT viruses, or malware, because THEY THINK they should decide if you have a "keygen" or a "network monitoring" tool on your machine.

Their credibility is way down the gurgler, as software you can trust.

Wouldn't surprise me what else they allow or remove depending on their political masters whims.


Probably because the companies which purchase anti-malware software don't want their employees using keygens or network monitoring (e.g., spying) tools on their PCs. What you do on your home PC is your business, what you do on a work PC is the company's business.


Aryeh Goretsky