Russia suspected of massive State Department email hack: report

Russia suspected of massive State Department email hack: report
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Suspected Russian hackers gained access to thousands of State Department emails last year, sources told Politico on Tuesday.

According to Politico, the hackers obtained emails from the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, but did not access the classified network.

This is the second known breach of the State Department's email server backed by the Kremlin in less than a decade, Politico notes.


"The Department takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard its information and continuously takes steps to ensure information is protected," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. "For security reasons, we are not in a position to discuss the nature or scope of any alleged cybersecurity incidents at this time."

Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, told Politico that the White House would not comment on specific departments, noting that “several" agencies had been hacked in the last year.

“As part of the Administration’s SolarWinds review, we discovered broad gaps in cybersecurity defenses across federal agencies,” Neuberger said. “We identified five specific cybersecurity modernization areas, assessed agencies against them, and are implementing a Build Back Better plan to rapidly fund and roll out these technologies to remediate vulnerabilities and modernize our cybersecurity approach.”

It is unclear whether the hacked emails in the State Department were linked to the SolarWinds breach, Politico notes. A White House official had previously said that at least nine federal agencies and 100 private sector groups had been compromised in the hack.

On Monday it was reported that emails from top officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had been accessed through the SolarWinds breach. Hackers were reportedly able to access the emails of DHS employees including former acting DHS Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfLawmakers slam DHS watchdog following report calling for 'multi-year transformation' Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave MORE. Hackers were also reported to have accessed the private schedules of former Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette, though the Energy Department told The Hill it had found "no evidence the network that maintains senior officials’ schedules was compromised."

The SolarWinds breach is one of the largest cybersecurity breaches in U.S. history. The Biden administration is still currently working to determine the full extent of the hack. U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that it was "likely" Russian hackers who exploited vulnerabilities in software from IT group SolarWinds.