The Trump administration formally accused Russia of “likely” being behind the most devastating hack of U.S. government agencies in years.
The statement, made jointly by four agencies in charge of intelligence and cybersecurity, is the first time the U.S. government has linked Russia to the hack that also affected critical companies that were also clients of network management system SolarWinds. The statement said it found less than 10 federal agencies had internal computer systems infiltrated in the breach; known victims include the federal departments of State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy.
The statement publicly breaks with President Trump, who has sought to point the finger at China.
This caps a four-year term throughout which Trump broke with his own officials to downplay the Russia threat.
Trump has cast doubt on intelligence assessments pointing to Russian interference in the 2016 election and dismissed claims Russia tried to interfere during the and 2020 elections.
It remains to be seen how he will respond to the latest joint statement from the FBI, Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency. The White House did not return a request for comment.
Even before yesterday, several Trump officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Attorney General William P. Barr, pointed to Russia as the likely culprit. White House officials were reportedly prepared to release a statement accusing Russia of being behind the hack the day of Trump’s tweet, but were told to stand down, Jill Colvin and Matthew Lee at the Associated Press reported.
A reprisal of the clash between Trump and the national security apparatus could hurt a Biden administration response.
President-elect Joe Biden slammed Trump at a news conference in late December for downplaying the hack and harming the United States’s cybersecurity defenses…