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Foreign-backed hackers infiltrated internal email systems at the US Treasury and Commerce departments, spying on communications for months, a report said Sunday.
In addition to the Treasury and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, government intelligence officials fear the hackers may have gotten into the records of other federal agencies, Reuters reported, citing three anonymous sources briefed on the matter.
“This is a nation state,” one source told the wire service, referring to the hackers’ backers. “We just don’t know which one yet.”
A probe by agencies including the FBI is still in its early stages, but the cyber break-in appeared so serious that the National Security Council met at the White House to discuss it on Saturday, sources told Reuters.
“The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation,” said National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot in a statement to the outlet.
In the case of the NTIA, the hack involves the agency’s Microsoft Office 365 software, the report said.
The breach allowed the hackers to eavesdrop on agency communications for months.
The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the outlet.