A cyberattack on the US government targeted several federal agencies by hackers linked to a foreign government. According to the New York Times, the main suspicions fall on Russia. The White House confirmed yesterday evening that hackers acting on behalf of a foreign government broke into a range of key government platforms. The departments of the Treasury and Commerce were also under attack as the hackers are gaining free access to email.
Administrators affirmed that an investigation is taking place to ascertain if other government networks had been targeted by the sophisticated attack. That would be the most critical cyber offensive from the last five years, and a vast operation is underway to determine how extensive the attack was, described as one of the most sophisticated ever.
According to NBC, the hackers probably breached the systems of some national security agencies, but it is not yet clear whether any classified data or information has been stolen until now. The Trump administration unveiled few details in public about the operation, which suggested that while the government was worried about Russian intervention in the 2020 election, key agencies working for the White House — and unrelated to the election — were the subject of a sophisticated attack that they were unaware of until recent weeks. The NYT notes.
John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement that the U.S. Government was aware of the attack, and it’s taking “all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation”. The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency, whose director was fired by Donald Trump a few weeks ago for claiming that there had been no public election fraud, also indicated it was working on the offensive.
US media affirmed that one of the agencies of the Commerce Department were affected. For the NYT, it can be the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, responsible for the policy for internet-related issues, including establishing criteria and blocking imports and exports of technology viewed as a risk for the US national security.
The reasons behind the attack on the agency and the Treasury Department seems to be obscure. As for now, officials say that it is too early to estimate the damage caused by the cyberattack and how many pieces of information were breached. Many believe the attack was underway for months among the coronavirus pandemic and the preparation of the election.