Eugene Kaspersky gets set to testify over US security concerns

Eugene Kaspersky gets set to testify over US security concerns

The cyber security firm's chief wants to address accusations that his company may be conducting espionage on behalf of the Kremlin

Eugene Kaspersky - CEO, Kaspersky Lab

Eugene Kaspersky - CEO, Kaspersky Lab

Eugene Kaspersky, the co-founder and chief executive of Moscow-based anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, has said he has accepted an invitation to testify to US lawmakers later this month over the security of his company's products, but that he needed an expedited visa in order to do so.

The appearance before Congress would be Kaspersky's most high-profile attempt to address long-standing accusations that his firm may be conducting espionage on behalf of the Kremlin.

The testimony would also provide a rare public airing of the tensions in cyberspace between the United States and Russia, as Kaspersky Lab has argued it has been caught in a proxy battle over broader tensions between the two countries.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a multipronged digital influence operation last year in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the White House, a charge Moscow denies.

In an email to Reuters, Kaspersky said, "I appreciate and accept the invitation to testify before the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and if I can get an expedited visa, I look forward to publicly addressing the allegations about my company and its products."

The invitation came a day after the Trump administration told US Government agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab products from their networks, saying it was concerned the company was vulnerable to Russian government influence and that using its anti-virus software could jeopardize national security.

The committee said it invited Kaspersky to testify on 27 September. US Government and private-sector cyber experts were also invited.

Fears about Kaspersky Lab have metastasised in recent months as U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials have tried to understand the full range of Russia's cyber-enabled meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian embassy in the United States called the Kaspersky Lab ban "regrettable" and said it delayed the prospects of restoring bilateral ties.

It said the move was part of a series of steps that would detract from mutual priorities, such as fighting terrorism, and that the United States should reconsider Russia's proposal to set up a joint cyber security group - an idea Trump has entertained but that Republicans and Democrats widely panned.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; additional reporting by Joseph Menn; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Jonathan Oatis)

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