The US Department of Justice announced Wednesday that hackers who broke into the software company SolarWinds had accessed its email systems. This is yet another indication of the gravity of the violation that rocked Washington.
The extent of the Justice Department hack wasn’t immediately clear, but it could be significant. The department, which employs more than 1,00,000 people across a number of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Marshals Service, said in a statement that 3 percent of their Office 365 mailboxes may have been accessed.
The statement went on to say that the Justice Department had no evidence that classified systems were affected, but Leo Taddeo, who previously headed the cyber division of the New York FBI office, said the transport could still bring an intelligence bonus.
“It’s still very bad when you have the contents of 3,000 accounts,” said Taddeo, who now works as chief information security officer for data center company Cyxtera Technologies.
He said unclassified emails still contained a wealth of information about incoming tips, pending charges, and international anti-corruption operations, among other things.
“You don’t need our secret secrets to cause great damage,” he said.
Justice spokesman Marc Raimondi declined to say how many mailboxes were breached.
The statement said the Department of Justice’s chief information officer discovered the violation the day before Christmas – almost two weeks after Reuters first reported that hackers suspected of acting on behalf of Russia were operating on U.S. networks -Government collapsed.
Russia has declined responsibility for the hacking campaign, which has been described as one of the most subtle operations in years. Cyber security experts said a full recovery from the security breaches could take months – or even longer.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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