The U.S. government has acknowledged reports that hackers backed by a foreign government have breached the U.S. Treasury Department and an agency within the Commerce Department.
“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,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot told FOX Business in a statement.
According to Reuters, the elaborate cyber hack targeted the Treasury Department as well as the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, a U.S. agency that crafts internet and telecommunications policy. Sources told the outlet that the hack was so serious it led to a National Security Council meeting on Saturday.
Hackers reportedly used the organization’s Microsoft Office 365 platform to monitor staff members emails for months.
A Treasury Deparment spokesperson deferred comment to the NSC. A spokesperson for the Commerce Department confirmed the breach, adding that it has “asked CISA and the FBI to investigate” but declining to comment any further. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment to FOX Business.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, said in a statement that the agency has been working closely with its partners regarding “recent activity on government networks.”
“CISA is providing technical assistance to affected entities as they work to identify and mitigate any potential compromises,” the spokesperson added.
An FBI spokesperson said it can “neither confirm nor deny details about any ongoing investigation,” citing the agency’s standard practice.
The announcement comes less than a month after President Donald Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the nation’s top cybersecurity official. Krebs, who oversaw CISA, was responsible for leading the effort to protect U.S. elections.