Lawmakers seek answers on agencies' use of Kaspersky tech

A House committee is asking federal agencies to turn over any records related to their use of software from a company suspected of having ties to the Kremlin.

 

A key House panel wants federal agencies turn over any records related to the use of an anti-virus software program supplied by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

The software was recently removed from federal acquisition vehicles operated by the General Services Administration and NASA.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, sent a letter to 23 cabinet agencies and departments on July 27, following media reports and comments from law enforcement and intelligence officials questioning whether Kaspersky Lab presents a security risk due to its alleged close relationship to the Russian government.

"Given the increasing prevalence of cybersecurity threats across the nation, the federal government's use of cybersecurity products manufactured by a firm with potential ties to the Russian government is concerning to Congress," Smith wrote.

The committee is asking agencies for any documents related to their use of Kaspersky Lab products, including the purchase, evaluation, implementation and any associated hardware that may have used the vendor's software. Because most anti-virus software operates at the system level and is typically not monitored by other security systems, lawmakers are concerned that a compromised anti-virus system could build or embed backdoors into government IT systems while avoiding detection.

The letter continues: "The Committee is concerned that Kaspersky Lab 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."

To date, the government has yet to publicly offer up any concrete evidence that Kaspersky Lab products are compromised or working with Russian intelligence agencies to undermine U.S. system, but during an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May, several U.S. intelligence officials raised concern about using the company’s software. Until recently, Kaspersky Lab was listed as a preapproved vendor on the GSA's Schedule 70 contract and available to most government agencies. However, the firm was removed from the list earlier this month following a review by the White House, the GSA and intelligence agencies.

On July 11, Bloomberg BusinessWeek published a story claiming that internal email communications between CEO Eugene Kaspersky and his staff reveal that the company “has maintained a much closer working relationship with Russia’s main intelligence agency … than it has publicly admitted."

In response, the company has vigorously disputed the allegations in Bloomberg's reporting, blaming hysteria related to the current investigation into whether Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email system in an attempt to influence the 2016 election. The company published a press release the same day listing nine "inaccurate statements" in the article, including the email chain that purports to show a close and potential inappropriate relationship with the FSB.

"Actually, the reported emails show no such link, as the communication was misinterpreted or manipulated to try to make the media outlet’s narrative work," the release stated. "Kaspersky Lab is very public about the fact that it assists law enforcement agencies around the world with fighting cyber threats, including those in Russia, by providing cybersecurity expertise on malware and cyberattacks."

Kaspersky stated on Twitter that the story is "BS brewed on [a] political agenda," and is worried that the allegations could harm the company’s U.S. business sales.

"As far as the publicly available facts are concerned, it’s still difficult to determine if Kaspersky is a bad actor or an innocent bystander in a broader geopolitical squabble," said Trevor Rudolph, a former White House cybersecurity official under the Obama administration, in an email to FCW. "I don't think there’s any doubting that the reputational damage to Kaspersky could be severe."

NEXT STORY: Deputy takes the reins at DHS

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.