Security analysts in America have warned of a “significant and ongoing” cyber hacking campaign currently impacting top government agencies.
The attacks targeted a number of departments, including the departments of defence, state, treasury and even the nuclear agency. What’s more, the hackers are thought to have been successful in breaching defences, with a senior security analyst saying the hackers had “managed clearly to gain access to a lot of secure areas.”
Reports in the US media have pointed the finger at Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, alleging state-sponsored espionage. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
Though the attack centred on US government, some related hacks have been detected within the UK too, although details are still emerging as investigations continue. As it stands, it’s unclear if UK government bodies had been compromised as the only known victims are British firms outside of the public sector.
Uncertainty in the US has stemmed from conflicting reports from outgoing president Donald Trump and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Taking to Twitter, Trump claimed that the hack was less serious in reality than the “fake news media” was reporting it. He claimed the issue was under control and that people were too quick to point the finger at Russia when it could instead have emerged from China. He then went on to assert that similar hacks might have impacted voting machines during his recent election loss.
Pompeo, on the other hand, told a radio show “we can say pretty clearly now that it was the Russians”.
Closer to home, the National Cyber Security Centre has pledged to monitor the situation carefully and take “immediate steps” if necessary, to protect networks in the UK. Director of Operations at the NCSC, Paul Chichester, said: “This is a complex, global cyber incident, and we are working with international partners to fully understand its scale and any UK impact.”