Annette Riedl | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration confirmed reports on Sunday that a foreign government-backed group had carried out a cyber attack on the U.S. Treasury Department and part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and correct possible problems related to this situation,” said John Ullyot, spokesman for the National Security Council, in an email to Statement sent by CNBC.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce confirmed the hack.
“We can confirm that there has been a breach in one of our offices. We have contacted CISA and the FBI for an investigation and we have no further comments to make at this time,” a trade spokesman told NBC News.
The hack was first reported by Reuters.
The hackers are suspected of targeting the Treasury Department and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a US agency tasked with developing Internet and telecommunications policy, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, the complex cyber hack that was launched on NTIA affected the company’s Microsoft Office 365 platform. Microsoft declined to comment.
It was not immediately clear what information was compromised by the cyber breach.
The Washington Post linked the hack, which took place over the weekend, to a group that worked for Russian foreign intelligence.
The FBI is currently investigating the group known as APT29 or Cozy Bear among private cybersecurity firms. The hackers are also believed to have violated the State Department, joint chiefs of staff, and White House networks during the Obama administration.
The latest revelation comes less than a month after President Donald Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the country’s leading cybersecurity officer.
Krebs, who oversaw the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency, was responsible for directing efforts to protect the US elections.
Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), speaks to reporters at the CISA polling center on Super Tuesday in Arlington, Virginia, United States, March 3, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
In two tweets last month, Trump said Krebs had made a “highly inaccurate” statement on the security of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump, who has not yet conceded President-elect Joe Biden, made unsubstantiated claims that the election was fraught with “massive inadequacies and fraud.” Twitter tagged the president’s tweets with a warning that the allegation of election fraud is controversial.
The courts have repeatedly dismissed lawsuits against the Trump campaign, and its allies have pushed ahead with the 2020 election.