United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Russia for what is described as the worst cyber espionage attacks on the US government.
“We can clearly say that it was the Russians who did the work,” Mr Pompeo said on Friday.
The Cyber Hacks
He did not provide details about the alleged links to Moscow, and Russia has denied any involvement in the attack.
The hack campaign, specifically designed to target software made by US company SolarWinds, was released last week but has been going on for months.
Among the US agencies targeted was the office that manages nuclear weapons.
That government organisation, the US energy department, said however that the arsenal’s security had not been compromised.
Other organizations around the world, including the UK, are understandably targeted to hackers using the same network management software.
Investigators, who named Hunburst hacker, say it could take years to fully understand what one of the greatest disasters has ever happened.
Pompeo’s Statement About The Attacks
In a radio interview with US talk show host Mark Levin on Friday, Mr Pompeo said he believed Russia, in a matter of months, had infiltrated many US government agencies and private companies, as well as other companies and governments around the world.
He said “there is a great deal of effort to use third-party software to enter code within the US government system”.
Along with the U.S. Department of Energy, state agencies targeting what has been described as a complex cyber espionage operation include the Treasury and the national security, national, defense and trade departments.
Mr Pompeo said American investigators watching the attack were “still well-informed”, and that many details could remain divisive.
He said Russia was trying to “undermine our way of life”, adding that Russian President “Vladimir Putin was in real danger”.
What Is Known At The Moment?
Hackers have been able to gain access to large corporations by compromising network management software developed by Texas-based IT company SolarWinds.
Access would have allowed hackers to take higher levels of administration from networks of organizations that use the software, but it seems to be used to steal data rather than have a disruptive or destructive effect.
It is thought that those involved in the campaign were targeting a number of organizations in an effort to steal national security, security and other related information.
However, while software may be downloaded, that does not mean that the data was retrieved.
SolarWinds Orion, a computer network tool linked to the source of the crime, previously said that 18,000 of its customers may have been affected, but there is no indication that the massive theft of customer or citizen data was the result of cyber attacks.
Investigators say the multi-month operation of SolarWinds is likely to be launched before March this year.
U.S. President Donald Trump has not yet commented directly on the attack, but President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to be sworn in on January 20, has promised to make cyber security a “priority” in his administration.
“We must disrupt and prevent our opponents from starting cyber attacks,” he said on Thursday.
“We will do that, among other things, at great cost to those who are subjected to vicious attacks, including working with our partners and our partners.”
For more than three decades, Moscow-linked hackers are believed to have tried to steal US secrets online.