Russia claims that it was not involved in hacking U.S. government agencies.
As early as March, hackers breached several U.S. government agencies, including the Treasury and Commerce departments, Yahoo! News reports. One of the main suspects in the incident is Russia, which claims it had no parts in the hack.
According to the Associated Press, a dangerous code was placed into updates to popular software that monitors businesses and governments’ computer networks. AP’s Matt O’Brien and Frank Bajak write that the malware, which affected a product made by the U.S. company SolarWinds, gave hackers remote access into an organization’s networks to steal information.
Officials didn’t catch wind of the hack until cybersecurity company FireEye discovered it. AP reports that whoever hacked the system wanted information about FireEye’s government clients. The company said hackers were able to take hacking tools it uses to investigate its customers’ defenses, AP reports. “There’s no evidence that this was meant to be destructive,” said Ben Buchanan, Georgetown University cyberespionage expert and author of “The Hacker and The State.” Buchanan said the hacking campaign was “impressive, surprising and alarming.”
On Monday, corporate and government IT cyberthreat teams started looking into networks trying to find the spyware and tools the hackers used. Buchanan said that the long months had given hackers ample time to steal information from several of its targets, who have not been listed.
While this hack was a major scare, Buchanan says that this plot was not as detrimental as the 2015 Chinese hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which resulted in 2.2 million federal employee and government job records and applications being stolen. On Monday, Russia stated that it had “nothing to do with” the hacking.
“Once again, I can reject these accusations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “If for many months the Americans couldn’t do anything about it, then, probably, one shouldn’t unfoundedly blame the Russians for everything.”