DOJ says Russians linked to SolarWinds, federal prosecutors who hacked: NPR


The Justice Department said 27 attorney general offices had compromised the email account of at least one employee.

Patrick Simansky/AFP

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Patrick Simansky/AFP

The Justice Department said 27 attorney general offices had compromised the email account of at least one employee.

Patrick Simansky/AFP

Washington (AFP) – Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds Cyber ​​Espionage Campaign The Department of Justice said that some of the most prominent federal prosecutors’ offices across the country hacked email accounts last year.

The department said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees at the four New York lawyers’ offices had been hacked. Finally, the Department of Justice said 27 US attorney general’s offices had compromised at least one employee’s email account during the hacking campaign.

The Department of Justice said in a statement Friday that it believes the accounts were compromised from May 7 to December 27, 2020. Such a time frame is noteworthy because the SolarWinds campaign, which infiltrated dozens of private sector companies and research centers as well as at least nine US government agencies, It was first discovered and published in mid-December.

Biden administration in April Sanctions announced, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats, in response to the SolarWinds hack and Russian interference in the 2020 US presidential election. Russia has denied any wrongdoing.

Emails to federal prosecutors often contain sensitive information

Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer at Columbia Law School, said the office’s emails often contained all kinds of sensitive information, including case strategy discussions and the names of secret informants, when she was a federal prosecutor in New York.

“I don’t remember having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me due to security concerns,” she said, noting exceptions to confidential material.

The Administrative Office of US Courts confirmed in January that it had also been hacked, giving SolarWinds hackers another entry point to steal confidential information such as trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants.

The list of affected offices includes several large and high-profile offices such as those in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and the Eastern District of Virginia.

New York’s southern and eastern counties, where a large number of employees have been infected, are dealing with some of the country’s most prominent prosecutors.

“New York is the financial center of the world, and those counties are particularly known for investigating and prosecuting white-collar crime and other cases, including investigating people close to the former president,” said Bruce Greene, a professor at Fordham Law School. A former attorney general in the South Brigade.

The department said all victims have been notified and that it is working to mitigate the “operational, security and privacy risks” caused by the breach. The Justice Department said in January it had no indication that any classified systems had been affected.

The Department of Justice did not provide additional details about the type of information taken and the impact this breach might have on ongoing cases. Members of Congress have expressed frustration with the Biden administration for not sharing more information about the impact of the SolarWinds campaign.

The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers gained access to the email accounts of then-acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries.

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