Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has rejected recent news reports suggesting state-sponsored hackers obtained classified U.S. documents by exploiting antivirus software marketed by a private Moscow-based cybersecurity company, dismissing claims the Kremlin used Kaspersky Lab as a conduit for espionage.
“This information is absurd,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin press secretary, told journalists Thursday. “The state neither had nor has any relation to this activity. All such allegations are baseless and unproved.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that Russian government hackers used Kaspersky software to infiltrate its customers’ computers and, in at least one instance, remotely steal classified U.S. material from a National Security Agency employee’s personal computer. Other outlets have since corroborated that report, including a New York Times article published earlier this week crediting Israeli intelligence with identifying the scheme and subsequently notifying NSA counterparts.
“Kaspersky Lab has nothing to do with the situation described in The New York Times or other media outlets and has no information about it,” a spokesperson for the company responded Thursday, Russian media reported. “We reconfirm our readiness to work together with the U.S. authorities to answer any questions about the company’s products, as well as internal procedures.”
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology announced Wednesday that it plans to hold multiple hearings concerning Kaspersky Lab beginning Oct. 25, Politico reported.
Concerns surrounding Kaspersky products have run rampant throughout Washington in recent months, albeit sans explanation. The heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA said during a congressional hearing in May that they would be uncomfortable with installing Kaspersky products on government computers but refrained from offering a reasoning for their answers.
“I cannot disclose the classified assessments that prompted the intelligence chiefs’ response,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, said early last month. “But it is unacceptable to ignore questions about Kaspersky Lab because the answers are shielded in classified materials.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security subsequently issued a directive Sept. 13 prohibiting all federal agencies from using Kaspersky products.
Allies, however, aren’t as skeptical.
“There are no plans to warn against the use of Kaspersky products since the BSI has no evidence for misconduct by the company or weaknesses in its software,” German spy agency BSI told Reuters this week. “The BSI has no indications at this time that the process occurred as described in the media.”
Interpol, meanwhile, announced Thursday it has inked a threat-sharing agreement with Kaspersky.
“Interpol’s new agreement with Kaspersky Lab is an additional step in our continued efforts to ensure law enforcement worldwide has access to the information they need to combat cyberthreats,” said Noboru Nakatani, executive director of the Interpol’s Global Complex for Innovation.
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