According to the Justice Department, Russian hackers were responsible for hacking into email accounts of prominent federal prosecutors offices in the country.
According to the department, 80% of Microsoft email accounts belonging to employees at four U.S. Attorney offices in New York were compromised. The Justice Department stated that at least one email account was compromised in the hacking campaign by 27 U.S. Attorney offices.
In a Friday statement, the Justice Department stated that it believes the accounts were compromised between May 7 and December 27, 2020. This is significant because SolarWinds, which infiltrated at least nine U.S. government agencies and private companies, was first reported in December.
The Biden administration in April announced sanctions, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats, in response to the SolarWinds hack and Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Russia denies any wrongdoing.
Jennifer Rodgers, Columbia Law School lecturer, stated that office emails often contained sensitive information such as case strategy discussions or names of confidential informants. She was a New York federal prosecutor.
She said that she doesn’t recall ever being given a document by someone other than emailing it to her because of security concerns.
The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts confirmed in January that it was also breached, giving the SolarWinds hackers another entry point to steal confidential information like trade secrets, espionage targets, whistleblower reports and arrest warrants.
The affected offices include many large and well-known ones such as those in Los Angeles and Washington, Washington, and the Eastern District Virginia.
Some of the most notable prosecutions in the United States are handled by the Southern and Eastern Districts, New York.
Bruce Green, a Fordham Law School professor and former Southern District prosecutor, stated that New York is the financial centre of the globe.
According to the department, all victims were notified and that it was working to reduce “operational security and privacy risk” due to hacking. In January, the Justice Department stated that there was no evidence that classified systems had been compromised.
The Justice Department didn’t provide any additional information about the nature of the hack or what it might have on ongoing cases. Members of Congress have expressed frustration with the Biden administration for not sharing more information about the impact of the SolarWinds campaign.
The Associated Press previously reported that SolarWinds hackers had gained access to email accounts belonging to the then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries.