Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D.N.H., has asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold a hearing to examine a Thursday report that Russian government hackers used Kaspersky Lab antivirus software installed on a National Security Agency contractor's home computer to steal information about America's foreign computer networks and cyber defense systems.
Shaheen, a committee member, sent a letter to Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., on Friday asking that the matter be investigated.
"I urge you to expeditiously schedule a hearing to receive testimony from administration officials, including NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, about the nature of this security breach and what the federal government is doing to prevent future incidents," Shaheen wrote in the letter following a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The second-term senator has called for a ban on all Kaspersky Lab software across the government. She included a provision in next year's National Defense Authorization Act that prohibits any government entity from using hardware, software, or services connected to the company. The annual policy bill passed the Senate.
"This development should serve as a stark warning, not just to the federal government, but to states, local governments, and the American public, of the serious dangers of using Kaspersky software," Shaheen said in a press release Thursday. "The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are extremely alarming and have been well-documented for some time."
Fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member, Republican Ben Sasse of Nebraska, also said the Kaspersky attack should cause concern from Americans.
"It's a lot harder to beat your opponent when they're reading your playbook, and it's even worse when someone on your team gives it to them. If these reports are true, Russia has pulled that off. The men and women of the U.S. Intelligence Community are patriots; but, the NSA needs to get its head out of the sand and solve its contractor problem," Sasse said in a statement Thursday.
The hacking has yet to be formally disclosed but could be among the most significant security breaches in recent history. U.S. officials believe the hackers were able to go after the contractor because he or she used a Russian-made antivirus software by Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky, which claims to have more than 400 million users worldwide, said it "has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident, and as a result, we must assume that this is another example of a false accusation."
The incident took place in 2015 but was not discovered until early 2016. Hackers stole information about the NSA's ability to break into foreign computer networks, computer coding it uses for spying, and how it protects domestic networks.
It marks the third publicly reported breach of an NSA contractor and comes after multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed Russia tried to interfere technologically in the 2016 presidential election.