Hackers targeted the US Treasury and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration – and there was concern among US intelligence agencies that the same perpetrators might have gained access to other government agencies’ internal communications, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing sources “familiar with the investigation.”
The intruders apparently gained access to internal emails through Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud-based service, with anonymous sources calling the attack “highly sophisticated” and thus definitely perpetrated by a “nation state.” As many as three of those sources said Russia is “currently believed” to be behind the attack. To dispel any doubts, Reuters recalled a recent embarrassing hack of a preeminent US cybersecurity firm, FireEye, which was also blamed on Moscow simply because that would be “consistent” with what anonymous officials and mainstream media report about Russia.
The breach was discovered just recently and allegedly led to a high-profile National Security Council meeting at the White House this weekend, but there was indication that some of the communications had been accessed illicitly as early as this summer.
Neither Microsoft nor the Treasury Department issued a comment yet, but the Commerce Department confirmed a breach at one of its agencies, but offered no details.
We have asked the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI to investigate, and we cannot comment further at this time.
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