In case anyone needed some more bad news:
Hackers believed to be working for Russia have been monitoring internal email traffic at the U.S. Treasury Department and an agency that decides internet and telecommunications policy, according to people familiar with the matter.
There is concern within the U.S. intelligence community that the hackers who targeted Treasury and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration used a similar tool to break into other government agencies, according to four people briefed on the matter.Reuters
We now live in a world where technology is used as a weapon to manipulate every aspect of our lives.
So how did the attackers get in?
The people did not say which other agencies, but late Sunday Austin, Texas-based IT company SolarWinds said software updates it released in March and June of this year may have been surreptitiously tampered with in a “highly-sophisticated, targeted and manual supply chain attack by a nation state.”
SolarWinds stopped short of saying the hack at Treasury occurred via them, but two of the people familiar with the investigation said the company was believed to be the channel by which the hackers got in.
SolarWinds says on its website that its customers include most of America’s Fortune 500 companies, all top ten U.S. telecommunications providers, all five branches of the U.S. military, the State Department, the National Security Agency, and the Office of President of the United States.
Three of the people familiar with the investigation said Russia is currently believed to be behind the attack.Reuters
To infiltrate the government, infiltrate their suppliers.
Hackers broke into the NTIA’s office software, Microsoft’s Office 365. Staff emails at the agency were monitored by the hackers for months, sources said.Reuters
God damnit Microsoft.
“The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation,” said National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot.
The hack is so serious it led to a National Security Council meeting at the White House on Saturday, said one of the people familiar with the matter.
The Commerce Department confirmed there was a breach at one of its agencies in a statement. “We have asked the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI to investigate, and we cannot comment further at this time.”
The breach presents a major challenge to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden as officials investigate what information was stolen and try to ascertain what it will be used for. It is not uncommon for large scale cyber investigations to take months or years to complete.
“This is a much bigger story than one single agency,” said one of the people familiar with the matter. “This is a huge cyber espionage campaign targeting the U.S. government and its interests.”
There is some indication that the email compromise at NTIA dates back to this summer, although it was only recently discovered, according to a senior U.S. official.Reuters