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US government hit during global cyberattack

FILE PHOTO: Man holds laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture

OAN’s Roy Francis

9:00 AM – Friday, June 16, 2023

Several United States agencies were hacked as part of a broader cyberattack that targeted “several hundred” companies and organizations across the U.S. along with several NATO allies.

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Eric Goldstein, the Executive Assistant Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said that an investigation is ongoing to figure out the scope of the hacks.

“CISA is providing support to several federal agencies that have experienced intrusions,” he said. “We are working urgently to understand impacts and ensure timely remediation.”

However, CISA said that they believe the group behind the attack is Clop, a Russian ransomware gang known to demand millions in ransom. The group had targeted a program called MOVEIt, a tool used to transfer files quickly, and had exploited a vulnerability within it.

Progress Software, the U.S. firm which makes the program that was hacked, said that they are currently working on fixing a second vulnerability in the code of the program that they have discovered.

CISA Director Jen Easterly said that the hacks have not had “significant impacts” on federal civilian agencies, she explained that the hacker group was “opportunistic” in using the flaw to break into the different networks.

The Department of Energy is one of the several federal agencies that have been breached by the cyber-attack. A spokesperson said that they have “taken immediate steps” in order to alleviate the impact of the hack after they discovered that two “entities” within the department were targeted.

According to CNN, the two entities that were targeted are Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a not-for-profit research center, and the second is a contractor that is associated with the department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant that uses atomic energy to dispose of waste in New Mexico.

The spokesperson said that the Department has notified and are working with the appropriate agencies in order to investigate the attack and mitigate its impact.

“The Department has notified Congress and is working with law enforcement, CISA, and the affected entities to investigate the incident and mitigate impacts from the breach,” a spokesperson said.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore also released a statement acknowledging that they have also been targeted in the attack and that “sensitive personal and financial information” from its health system may have been stolen.

The cyber campaign, which one cybersecurity expert said was one of the largest theft and extortion events in recent history, has been ongoing since the end of May. Among those targeted are the Department of Energy, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Georgia, the BBC and British Airways.

Brett Callow, a cyber threat analyst with Emisoft told CBS News that even though several hundred agencies and organizations were targeted, so far there has been 47 confirmed victims that have been successfully breached.

Experts say that the hacking group has been active since 2014 and operates out of Russia with the unspoken consent from Russian intelligence services.

The group claimed that they are erasing all data from government, city or police services.

“If you are a government, city or police service do not worry, we erased all your data. You do not need to contact us. We have no interest to expose such information,” the group said.

The targeted federal agencies have said that no ransom demands have been made so far, and that no federal data has been leaked.

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