Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government have gained access to at least two U.S. government networks, spending months monitoring staff emails at the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Intelligence agencies are worried that the hackers have also broken into other government agencies, the sources said, and are trying to determine what information was stolen and how it could be used. "This is a much bigger story than one single agency," a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. "This is a huge cyber espionage campaign targeting the U.S. government and its interests."
The investigation into the hacking is in its early stages, and several people familiar with the matter told Reuters, The New York Times, and The Washington Post that Russia is believed to be behind the attack. The breaches are thought to be connected to the hacking that targeted FireEye, a cybersecurity firm with government contracts, and the matter is so serious that the National Security Council held an emergency meeting at the White House on Saturday, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement the U.S. government "is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation." The Commerce Department confirmed the hacking at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, saying, "We have asked the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI to investigate, and we cannot comment further at this time."