Russian hackers newly suspected of stealing US State deptt. emails

Moscow, Mar 31 (Bureau) Russian hackers are suspected of stealing thousands of emails from officials in the US Department of State in a previously unreported attack, Politico reported, citing two sources in the US Congress familiar with the intrusion. Suspects, believed to be Russian hackers, compromised emails of the officials working in the European and Eurasian affairs bureau and East Asian and Pacific affairs bureau, but the classified network does not appear to be accessed at this point, the news outlet reported, citing a third official said.

It is still unclear whether the attack was part of the larger SolarWinds espionage campaign, which targeted in December a number of US government agencies and private companies, and which some have blamed on Russian intelligence. The Department of State used the software and was reportedly among those affected. Commenting on the incident, a State Department spokesperson refused to provide any details, citing security reasons, noting that the authority “takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard its information and continuously takes steps to ensure information is protected.”

According to Politico, the attack shows that the scope of the US government data allegedly accessed by Russian hackers was larger than previously known to the public, which, in turn, raises concerns about the department’s cybersecurity. The hack is believed to be the second breach on the agency’s email server allegedly backed by the Kremlin in less than a decade. Russian hackers were also suspected of penetrating the White House computers and the networks of the Department of State in 2015. Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of breaking into government networks, saying the accusations are groundless.