Washington/Moscow: Russia has launched a cyberattack on the US Department of State. Russian hackers are said to have stolen thousands of emails from State Department officials. In December last year, a major cyberattack was launched on US software companies FireEye and SolarWinds. The computer systems of US nuclear weapons networks, as even Departments of Treasury, Energy and Commerce, were found targeted in the Russian hack. However, US officials did not reveal whether the attack on the State Department was a part of the Russian hack.
On Tuesday, some US media outlets reported the Russian cyberattack. The outlets reported the information, citing sources from the Biden administration and US Congress. The cyberattack by Russian hackers targeted emails from the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). Although the State Department and the White House commented on the attack, they did not provide substantive information.
A State Department spokesperson said that they were handling the cyberattack issue seriously. Besides, National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger said that the White House would not issue a statement regarding cyberattacks on specific departments. This is the second time in the last decade that Russia has launched a cyberattack on the US State Department. Previously, in 2014, Russian hackers had launched a cyberattack on the US State Department.
Russia was found responsible for cyberattacks on private companies and government departments in the United States. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had acknowledged that Russia was behind the attack. The prime agencies in the United States, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Security Agency, had released a report that alleged Russia was solely responsible for the cyberattack. The report also warned that the extent of the attack was not yet clear.
Joe Biden, who took over the presidency in January, had instructed the administration to submit a response plan. The US administration is preparing to respond to Russia’s attack, and US officials had indicated that covert cyberattacks would be launched on Russian networks. Russia had reacted sharply to the US plan. In the wake of the events, the news of Russia’s new cyberattack assumes much significance.
Meanwhile, Russian media have reported that President Vladimir Putin has called for an international agreement on using the Internet.