(thepostmillennial)In a bombshell revelation, a hacking group backed by a foreign government has stolen information from the U.S. Treasury Department and the internet policy-focused National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the U.S. agency responsible for deciding policy on the internet and telecommunications. According to sources, the hack was so severe that it triggered a National Security Council meeting at the White House on Saturday. The federal government confirmed the reports of the hacks late Sunday.
“The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot told FOX Business in a statement.
Earlier in the day Ullyot had stated “The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation”.
Sources for Reuters said, “There is concern within the U.S. intelligence community that the hackers who targeted the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration used a similar tool to break into other government agencies.”
Reuters claimed that the hack involves the NTIA’s office software, Microsoft’s Office 365. Staff emails at the agency were monitored by the hackers for months, sources said. The “highly sophisticated hackers” were able to trick the Microsoft platform’s authentication controls, according to a person familiar with the incident, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the press. A Treasury Department spokesperson deferred comments to the NSC. A spokesperson for the Commerce Department confirmed the breach, adding that it has “…asked CISA and the FBI to investigate…” but declining to comment any further.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said in a statement that the agency has been working closely with its partners 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,” the spokesperson added.
Since the early days of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, hackers have been using the crisis overseas fraud rings have been using hacked data to steal identities and make off with millions of dollars earmarked for unemployment benefits. The Secret Service reportedly feared as early as May that hundreds of millions of dollars could be stolen from government offices overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nigerian scammers defrauded over $650 million dollars from Washington State’s Unemployment Agency. Some estimate the total as high as $1 billion. Thousands of Washington residents have still not received unemployment checks since the beginning of the economic crisis caused by state mandated lockdowns and restrictions in response to the virus.
Last week, officials from Bank of America, the bank contracted with California’s unemployment agency, to issue debit cards containing unemployment benefits, said that 640,000 suspicious accounts had been identified and should be investigated, including claims filed in the names of infants, children, centenarians and people living in states not contiguous to California. In the letter, the bank estimates that the amount of fraud could total $2 billion.
In November, it was revealed that crime rings involving inmates in California’s jails and prisons may have stolen upwards of $1 billion in pandemic unemployment aid. 35,000 unemployment claims were filed in the name of California state prison inmates between March and August, including that of convicted murderer Scott Peterson, and that at least 20,000 had been paid out, said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
The full extent of the Treasury and NTIA hack, as well as other affected agencies is unknown at this time. The investigation is ongoing and this story will be updated as more information becomes available.