In May 2023, a Russian-speaking hacking group known as CL0P carried out a massive cyberattack on over 600,000 email addresses of employees from the United States Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. According to a report obtained by Bloomberg from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the hackers gained access to email accounts through a file transfer program called MOVEit, used by the data firm Westat, which the OPM uses for employee surveys.
The report indicates that the hackers obtained email addresses, links to government employee surveys, and internal tracking codes of agencies. The OPM assessed that the compromised data had “generally low sensitivity” and was not classified. However, cybersecurity experts warn that such information could be used for further attacks or extortion.
CL0P is one of several Russian hacking groups that have conducted a series of cyberattacks on targets in the USA and other countries in recent years. These include attacks on the largest fuel pipeline supplying the U.S. East Coast, several U.S. airports, and the computer networks of the White House and the State Department in 2014.
Russia denies any links to these groups and claims not to engage in any cyber activities against other nations. However, U.S. intelligence and security agencies believe that Russian government agencies support or tolerate such attacks to weaken their political and economic adversaries.
The USA responds to Russian cyberattacks by imposing sanctions, expelling diplomats, and accusing suspected hackers. President Joe Biden has also announced increased investments in cybersecurity and cooperation with allies to counter threats. Nevertheless, experts argue that further actions are needed to deter Russia from continuing such aggression in cyberspace.
Written by: Patryk Zbik
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