The U.S. Justice Department and the federal court system have recently revealed that they were among the few U.S. government agencies and private businesses affected by a broader and months long campaign of cyber espionage that the U.S. officials have linked to the elite Russia hackers. However, the extent of the damage was unclear.
The department stated that 3% of its Microsoft Office 365 email accounts were potentially affected, however, it did not disclose whom those accounts belonged to. The agency further stated that there are no indications of classified systems being affected. In this regard, Dmitri Alperovitch, former chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike stated that the more than email, Office 365 is a collaborative computing environment, which indicates that shared documents were also surely accessed.
Reportedly, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts informed the federal judicial bodies across the country that the nationwide case management system of the court was compromised which most probably gave the hackers access to sealed court documents with highly sensitive contents.
Marc Raimondi, spokesman from The Justice Department stated that on December 24, the agency identified previous unknown malicious activity that was linked to the wide intrusions of federal agencies revealed earlier that month.
The court office has stated through its website that the apparent breach of case management and electronic case file system of the U.S. judiciary was under investigation. Following which the Department of Homeland Security which was digging through the system and identified a certain threat to the sealed court documents, whose revelation could put a lot more than active criminal investigations at risk.
Commenting anonymously on the matter, a federal court official stated that the potential reach of the hack is vast. The official added that the scope of the breach was national, but it was unclear how widespread it is. The sealed court files probably contain information regarding national security, wiretap transcripts and trade secrets as well as financial data about bankruptcy cases and names of confidential informants of criminal cases.
Reportedly, Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies have formally implicated Russia in the intrusions, for their possible involvement in the suspected intelligence gathering operation.