Russian intelligence allegedly used computers within the U.S. to conduct a previously known massive cyberattack against several federal government agencies, it was reported.
U.S. authorities have blamed the Russian government for the months long attack. It reportedly began in July and was detected in December, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The cybersecurity firm FireEye told The New York Times the cyberattack was conducted from within the U.S., often from within the same town or city as the victims of the attack.
The use of domestic servers meant the perpetrators were able to evade the National Security Agency’s authority.
“[Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service] is deliberate, they are sophisticated, and they don’t have the same legal restraints as we do here in the West,” former government intelligence analyst Adam Darrah told the Times, per the Daily Caller.
Saturday’s Times reported the extent of the cyberattack now was estimated to have been much larger than originally expected. The Russians accessed about 250 U.S. networks, including Fortune 500 companies and several government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“We still don’t know what Russia’s strategic objectives were,” Suzanne Spaulding, a former DHS cybersecurity official, told the Times.
“But we should be concerned that part of this may go beyond reconnaissance. Their goal may be to put themselves in a position to have leverage over the new administration.”
It is not known how much sensitive data the hackers obtained, the Times said. Officials fear the perpetrators might have obtained the official U.S. plan for restoring power during a potential future nationwide blackout.
President Donald Trump tweeted Dec. 19:
“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control.”
Trump added China might have conducted the attack in a follow-up tweet.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-Attorney General William Barr, however, both said Russian hackers committed the attack.