Suspected Russian hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to the Trump administration’s head of the Department of Homeland Security and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries, it has emerged.
Chad Wolf, who served as acting Homeland Security Secretary, had his emails accessed, and a second Cabinet member – Dan Brouillette, the Energy Secretary – had his schedules compromised.
The intelligence value of the hacking of Wolf and his staff is not publicly known, the Associated Press reported, but the symbolism is stark.
Their accounts were accessed as part of what is known as the SolarWinds intrusion, and it throws into question how the U.S. government can protect individuals, companies and institutions across the country if it cannot protect itself.
Chad Wolf, former acting Homeland Security Secretary, was among those targeted in the hack
Wolf, pictured in July, has not commented on what the hackers had access to in his emails
‘The SolarWinds hack was a victory for our foreign adversaries, and a failure for DHS,’ said Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the top Republican on the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
‘We are talking about DHS’s crown jewels.’
The Biden administration has tried to keep a tight lid on the scope of the SolarWinds attack as it weighs retaliatory measures against Russia.
But an inquiry by the AP found new details about the breach at DHS and other agencies, including the Energy Department, where hackers accessed top officials’ schedules.
The vulnerabilities at Homeland Security, in particular, intensify the worries following the SolarWinds attack and an even more widespread hack affecting Microsoft Exchange’s email program, especially because in both cases the hackers were detected not by the government but by a private company.
In December, officials discovered what they describe as a sprawling, months-long cyberespionage effort done largely through a hack of a widely used software from Texas-based SolarWinds Inc.
The SolarWinds hack was uncovered in December and targeted at least nine federal agencies
At least nine federal agencies were…