US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that this week’s cyber attack – dubbed by one US official as “the worst hacking case in US history” – was “very clearly” the work of the Russians.
Pompeo made the comment during an interview on The Mark Levin Show, effectively making him the first official of the Trump administration to publicly link the Kremlin to the attack on the US and other computer systems around the world.
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“[T]Pompeo said, “The US government had a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially put code inside the system and it is now in the form of private companies and systems of companies and governments around the world Appears, ”Pompeo said. “Significant effort, and I think it is the case that we can now say clearly that it was the Russians who were engaged in this activity.”
The Russians were widely suspected of carrying out the attack, but no government official or institution had publicly confirmed who was behind it before Pompeo’s comments. Trump has not made any public statements about the violation. Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the country’s alleged involvement.
The Cyberspecific and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in an unusual warning message on Thursday that the hack compromised federal agencies and “critical infrastructure” in a sophisticated attack that was difficult to detect and would be difficult to undo.
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CISA officials did not answer questions, and so it was unclear what the agency meant by “serious threat” or “significant infrastructure” possibly targeted in the attack that the agency said began last March was. Homeland Security, the agency’s parent department, defines such infrastructure as any “significant” asset to the US or its economy – a broad category that can include power plants and financial institutions.
The agency previously stated that the criminals used network management software from Texas-based SolarWinds to infiltrate computer networks. Its new alert said the attackers may have used other methods as well.
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As it now stands, elements of the US State Department, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Defense have reported to be compromised. The hack may last for months, targeting the Treasury and Commerce departments.
Government departments, such as the Department of Energy, moved quickly to protect themselves and investigate the incidents.
“At this point, the investigation has found that the malware is isolated to commercial networks only, and has not affected the mission-required national security functions of the department, including the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).” DO spokesperson Shaylin Hines told Fox News.
“When DOE identified sensitive software, immediate action was taken to reduce the risk, and all software identified as vulnerable to this attack was removed from the DOE network.”
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Tech giant Microsoft, which has helped to respond to the breech, revealed late Thursday that it had identified more than 40 government agencies, think tanks, non-government organizations and IT companies as intrusive by hackers. It said five out of four were in the United States – about half of them tech companies – with victims also in Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom of Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken and The Associated Press contributed to this report.