Justice Department says hackers struck 27 US attorneys’ offices around US

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In a statement issued Friday, the U.S. Justice Department updated details about cyberattacks that struck the offices of federal prosecutors around the country in December 2020.

According to the statement, the email accounts of one or more employees at U.S. attorneys’ offices in 15 states plus the District of Columbia were affected by the intrusion into those offices’ SolarWinds network-management technology.

New York state saw four separate offices affected; Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania each saw three offices affected; California and Virginia two each; while nine states and the District of Columbia were each struck in one office, according to the statement.

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The nine states were Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Vermont and Washington, the statement said.

The same attack also affected private-sector targets, the Justice Department said, but its statement did not mention those targets by name.

The Justice Department said its investigation was treating the attack as if the perpetrators gained broad access to emails and attachments in the employees’ accounts. Justice said it believes the perpetrators had access to the email data between May 7 and Dec. 27 of 2020.

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The compromised data included all sent, received and stored messages, as well as attachments, the Justice Department statement said.

The attack likely helped the attackers gain access to the accounts of at least 80% of the employees working for the federal prosecutors, the statement said

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The Justice Department said it has provided guidance for its personnel to help them recognize cyberthreats.

In December, SolarWinds, based in Austin, Texas, notified about 33,000 of its customers that an “outside nation state” – believed to be Russia – had found a back-door route of entry into its Orion network management product. The alleged breach was spotted by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm that was among the affected SolarWinds customers, Fox Business reported at the time.

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