Russian Hackers Suspected of Breaching US Government Agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(CN) — Hackers suspected of working for Russia broke into the computer systems of the Commerce and Treasury departments, according to multiple media reports released Sunday.

“We can confirm there has been a breach in one of our bureaus,” the Commerce Department said 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 hacking group known as APT29 or Cozy Bear, is suspected of working for Russian foreign intelligence as part of a global campaign. The ongoing attacks have occurred for months, targeting multiple government agencies.

FireEye, a significant cybersecurity firm, announced last week that hackers backed by a foreign government stole the company’s hacking tools. The company provides security for several federal and local governments.

“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,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement Sunday.

First reported by Reuters, an anonymous source familiar with the matter said the hacking represents a larger effort to target the U.S.

“This is a much bigger story than one single agency,” the person told Reuters. “This is a huge cyber espionage campaign targeting the U.S. government and its interests.”

Hackers were able to break into the agencies’ email programs and monitor emails for a period of months, according to reports.

The hacking group has made similar attacks before, including the White House and State Department during President Barack Obama’s administration and efforts to steal Covid-19 vaccine research from pharmaceutical companies.

It’s unknown how much information the hackers were able to obtain nor the size of the data breach. 

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