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Cyberattack hits US treasury and commerce departments

Zero-day attack
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The US treasury and commerce departments have been hit by a serious cyberattack, with fingers already being pointed in Russia’s direction. The US Government convened a National Security Council meeting in the aftermath of the attack, with fears growing that other government departments may also be affected.

Reports indicate that the attack may be the work of the state-sponsored hacking group known as APT29, or Cozy Bear, which was confirmed as the attacker behind the recent FireEye breach (opens in new tab). The group has also been blamed for previous attacks on US Government agencies, as well as recent hacks at organizations researching Covid-19.

So far, not much is known about the attack on the US treasury and commerce departments, although all federal civilian agencies have been told to disconnect from SolarWinds, a computer network tool that is being exploited by the attackers.

Where's your proof?

Unsurprisingly, Russia has been bullish in rejecting US allegations. The country’s foreign ministry described accusations that it was responsible for the attack as “baseless.”

“The Russian Federation actively promotes bilateral and multilateral cybersecurity agreements,” Russia’s US Embassy wrote on Facebook (opens in new tab). “In this regard, we would like to remind our American colleagues of the initiative put forward by President Vladimir Putin on September 25 on a comprehensive program of measures to restore Russian-US cooperation in the field of international information security. We have received no reply from Washington. Many of our other suggestions to start constructive and equal dialogue with the US remain unanswered.”

Despite Russia’s protestations, Microsoft (opens in new tab) has also supported the claim that a nation-state is likely to be behind the recent attack. Cyberwarfare is now employed by most major countries, whether for intelligence gathering or outright disruption.  

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Via the BBC (opens in new tab)

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.