U.S. House committee calls new hearing on Kaspersky software

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives committee said on Friday that it has scheduled a new hearing on Kaspersky Lab software as lawmakers review accusations that the Kremlin could use its products to conduct espionage.

The logo of the anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab is seen at its headquarters in Moscow, Russia September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Kaspersky Lab has strongly denied those allegations, which last month prompted the Trump administration to order civilian government agencies to purge the software from its networks, and agreed to send Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky to Washington to testify before Congress.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology announced the Oct. 25 hearing a day after reports that Russian government-backed hackers stole highly classified U.S. cyber secrets in 2015 from a National Security Agency contractor who had Kaspersky software installed on his laptop.

The House science committee did not say who would be called to testify at the hearing.

Eugene Kaspersky last month told Reuters that the committee had invited him to testify at a Sept. 27 hearing and that he would attend if he could get an expedited visa to enter the United States.

That hearing was later canceled, though the committee held a closed-door classified session on Kaspersky software on Sept. 26.

Eugene Kaspersky said in a statement on Friday that he hoped to attend the hearing. “I look forward to participating in the hearing once it’s rescheduled and having the opportunity to address the committee’s concerns directly,” he said.

An appearance before Congress would mark Kaspersky’s most high-profile attempt to dispel long-standing accusations that his firm may be conducting espionage on behalf of the Russian government.

The investigation into the 2015 NSA hack is focused on somebody who worked at the agency’s Tailored Access Operations unit, a unit that uses computer hacking to gather intelligence, according to two people familiar with the classified probe.

Kaspersky anti-virus software was running on the contractor’s laptop at the time of the hack, and investigators are looking into whether hackers used the software to breach the computer and steal the data, said one of those sources.

Reporting by Dustin Volz; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and John Walcott in Washington, Joseph Menn in San Francisco; Writing by Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Jonathan Oatis