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Congress asks US agencies for Kaspersky Lab cyber documents

This is the latest blow to the antivirus company

Dustin Volz | Reuters  |  Las Vegas 

Congress asks US agencies for Kaspersky Lab cyber documents
A file photo of the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow. Photo: Reuters

A US congressional panel this week asked 22 government agencies to share documents on Moscow-based cyber firm Kaspersky Lab, saying its products could be used to carry out "nefarious activities against the United States," according to letters seen by Reuters.

The requests made the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology are the latest blow to the antivirus company, which has been countering accusations by US officials that it may be vulnerable to Russian government influence.

The committee asked the agencies for all documents and communications about products dating back to January 1, 2013, including any internal risk assessments. It also requested lists of any systems that use Kaspersky products and the names of any US government contractors or subcontractors that do so.

Kaspersky has repeatedly denied that it has ties to any government and said it would not help any government with cyber espionage. It said there is no evidence for the accusations made by US officials.

The committee "is concerned that is susceptible to manipulation by the Russian government, and that its products could be used as a tool for espionage, sabotage, or other nefarious activities against the United States," wrote the panel's Republican chairman, Lamar Smith, in the letters.

They were sent to all Cabinet-level agencies, including the Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, among others.

A committee aide told Reuters the survey was a "first step" designed to canvas the US government and that more action may follow depending on the results. The committee asked for responses by August 11.

Kaspersky Lab, founded in 1997 and now counts over 400 million global customers, has tried largely in vain to become a vendor to the US government, one of the world's biggest buyers of cyber tools.

Longstanding suspicions about the company grew in the when US-Russia relations deteriorated following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and later when US intelligence agencies determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election using cyber means.

Congress this week slapped new sanctions on Russia, in part in response to the allegations, which Moscow flatly denies. Moscow retaliated by ordering out some US diplomats.

US intelligence chiefs in May publicly expressed doubt about the safety of Kaspersky products for the first time, although they offered no specific evidence of any wrongdoing. The government is reviewing how many agencies use software from

First Published: Sat, July 29 2017. 23:50 IST