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U.S. looking into possible hacks of federal agencies

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hackers got into computers at the U.S. Treasury Department and possibly other federal agencies, touching off a government response involving the National Security Council.

Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot said Sunday that the government is aware of reports about the hacks. “We are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation,” he wrote in an email.

The government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it has been working with other agencies “regarding recently discovered activity on government networks. CISA is providing technical assistance to affected entities as they work to identify and mitigate any potential compromises.”

President Donald Trump last month fired the director of CISA, Chris Krebs, after Krebs vouched for the integrity of the presidential election and disputed Trump’s claims of widespread electoral fraud.

Reuters reported Sunday that a group backed by a foreign government stole information from Treasury and a Commerce Department agency responsible for deciding internet and telecommunications policy. Intelligence agencies are reportedly concerned that other agencies were hacked using similar tools.

The Treasury Department deferred comment to the National Security Council.

Last Tuesday, prominent U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye said that foreign government hackers with “world-class capabilities” broke into its network and stole offensive tools it uses to probe the defenses of its thousands of customers. Those customers include federal, state and local governments and top global corporations.

The hackers “primarily sought information related to certain government customers,” FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said in a statement, without naming them. He said there was no indication they got customer information from the company’s consulting or breach-response businesses or threat-intelligence data it collects.

FireEye is a major cybersecurity player — it responded to the Sony and Equifax data breaches and helped Saudi Arabia thwart an oil industry cyberattack — and has played a key role in identifying Russia as the protagonist in numerous aggressions in the burgeoning netherworld of global digital conflict.

Neither Mandia nor a FireEye spokesperson said when the company detected the hack or who might be responsible.

But many in the cybersecurity community suspect Russia.

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