Barclays bank has stopped offering free Kaspersky anti-virus products to new online banking customers following an official UK government warning about Russian software.

In an email to 290,000 online banking customers on Saturday (2 December), Barclays said: "The UK government has been advised to remove any Russian products from all highly sensitive systems classified as secret or above.

"We've made the precautionary decision to no longer offer Kaspersky software to new users. However, there's nothing to suggest that customers need to stop using Kaspersky."

Barclays said it treated the security of its customers "very seriously". The offer was available at the point of use to internet banking customers to boost their security via a free 12-month free trial.

A spokesman for Kaspersky told IBTimes UK the company was very "disappointed" that Barclays had discontinued its offer to its customers.

Earlier in the day, it was revealed that the UK National Cyber Security Centre - the country's authority on cyber security and part of GCHQ - is writing to all government departments telling them Russian security software could be exploited by Moscow.

Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: "Russia is acting against the UK's national interest in cyberspace."

"It seeks to target UK central government and the UK's critical national infrastructure." He advised that "a Russia-based provider should never be used" for systems that deal with issues related to national security.

However, the agency did note it is not advising the public at large against using Kaspersky's popular antivirus products.