Russian hackers targeted employees at major defense contractors working on sensitive U.S. military programs, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Hackers with cyber-espionage group Fancy Bear used phishing emails to target no less than 87 contractors working on military technology projects such as drones, missiles and fighter jets for the U.S. government, according to the AP.
The news agency's investigation relied on email phishing data tracked by cyber firm Secureworks between March 2015 and May 2016.
Those targeted included employees of major defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing, as well as lesser-known firms. They were largely targeted on their personal Gmail accounts.
Such hacking efforts could potentially allow Moscow to obtain sensitive details on American military technology.
It is unclear the extent to which the phishing scams were successful, but the AP concluded that as many as 40 percent of those targeted clicked on the malicious links.
Fancy Bear has been active since the mid-2000s, but has recently been drawn further into the spotlight by revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Fancy Bear, which many have assessed is linked to Russian intelligence, was implicated in the 2016 hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to attend World Series Game 4 in Atlanta Pavlich: Democrats' weaponization of the DOJ is back Mellman: The trout in the milk MORE campaign chairman John Podesta.
Russia has denied meddling in the election.
Fancy Bear has long targeted information systems in the United States and around the globe for espionage purposes. Earlier this year, evidence emerged that the group, also known as APT 28 or “Pawn Storm,” had started targeting the U.S. Senate last year by setting up fake websites to steal official credentials for the Senate’s email system.
--This report was updated at 11 a.m.