United States intelligence agencies announced Tuesday, January 5, 2020, that Russia is most “likely” behind the series of cyber attacks launched against several government agencies and private companies. Tech Crunch states that this included the attacks on 10 federal agencies, FireEye, and Microsoft.
The joint statement was made by various agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security’s cybersecurity unit called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the National Security Agency, alongside the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.
The statement’s release and careful wording come as the said federal agencies attempt to veer away from the claims made by President Donald Trump that China was behind the said hacking incidents, reports The New York Times.
President Trump reportedly took to the social media platform to air his sentiments on the issue last month. However, there are no signs or information which point to China being responsible for the attacks.
In a statement, the formal release said that the threat actor responsible for the succession of attacks on different government agencies and private firms were most “likely to be Russian in origin.”
The statement also said that the hacker “was responsible for most or all of the recently discovered, ongoing cyber compromises of both government and non-governmental networks.”
“We believe this was, and continues to be, an intelligence-gathering effort… This is a serious compromise that will require a sustained and dedicated effort to remediate,” said the joint statement. The Washington Post said this points to the lack of evidence pointing to Russian involvement.
Among the entities affected by the series of breaches include several key agencies of the government such as the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Energy, Commerce, and Treasury.
Just recently, around 18,000 organizations that downloaded a malicious code from SolarWinds became infected, leading these companies to experienced compromised activity on their computer systems, revealed the Associated Press.
According to the New York Times, the series of attacks have been underway for a month prior to being discovered by security agencies. They have reportedly been made aware of the situation sometime around mid-December.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press states that the operation towards discovering and hunting new threats is still underway. This led both the government agencies and private businesses in question to work through the holidays, revealed The Washington Post.
In a response to questions Tuesday, Reuters said that Russian officials have since denied their involvement in these hacking activities.