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U.S. intel community says Russia responsible for massive hack on federal government, businesses

"This is a serious compromise that will require a sustained and dedicated effort to remediate,” the U.S. intel community said.

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Depiction of a hacker
Depiction of a hacker
(Magnus916 / Creative Commons)
Updated: January 5, 2021 - 5:29pm

The U.S. intelligence community on Tuesday confirmed that Russia was likely responsible for a massive cyber hack of federal agencies and corporations.

In a rare joint statement, the intelligence officials for the first time blamed Russia and said the recently discovered hacks appeared to be for “intelligence-gathering,” not an attempt to disrupt U.S. government operations.

"This is a serious compromise that will require a sustained and dedicated effort to remediate,” reads the statement by the FBI and other investigative agencies and obtained by the Associated Press.

The federal government’s failure to thwart the hacking is considered its worst cyber-espionage failure. 

The intruders had been sifting through government agencies, defense contractors and telecommunications companies for at least seven months before being discovered, which likely gave them plenty of time to gather data, including possibly sensitive information, according to the wire service.

However, the full scope of the hack still remains unknown.

In the hack, roughly 18,000 organizations were infected earlier this year by malicious code that piggybacked on popular network-management software from the Austin, Texas, company SolarWinds, the Associated Press also reports.