US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Friday evening that he believed Russia was behind a hack that violated dozens of federal agencies and companies, including the cybersecurity company FireEye.
Speaking on the “Mark Levin Show,” Pompeo said the effort was “clearly enough” linked to Russia.
“I can’t say much more because we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some will stay ranked,” Pompeo said. “It was a very important effort, and I think it is the case that now we can say quite clearly that it was the Russians who engaged in this activity. “
When asked if President Donald Trump would speak during the inquiry, Pompeo said that sometimes “the wisest way to protect the American people is to go about their business calmly and defend freedom” .
FireEye, a large US cybersecurity company with numerous government contracts, first revealed the hack earlier this month. In a company blog post, CEO Kevin Mandia called it “an attack by a nation with high-level offensive capabilities.” He later said that the main objective of hackers appeared to be to steal information from the company’s government clients.
FBI Cyber Division investigators said preliminary indications suggested the official had “a high level of sophistication consistent with a nation-state.”
Hackers appear to have gained access to computer systems by breaking into SolarWinds, an Austin-based company that provides remote computer services to a long list of customers across the world, including many U.S. government agencies and large corporations.
The United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued an emergency directive directing federal agencies to immediately stop using the SolarWinds version of products.
The cyberattack began as early as March but was not discovered until this month. Many of the targets were government agencies, companies that contract with governments or think tanks. Information and technology companies have also been affected, according to Microsoft.
Members of the Homeland Security and Oversight Committee said on Friday they had been briefed on the matter but were left with “more questions than answers.”
“After receiving a confidential briefing from members of the Trump administration today on the major hacking of government systems, we are left with more questions than answers,” the committee leaders said in a statement. “Even in the midst of an unprecedented cyberattack with Implications for Our National Security, administration officials were unwilling to share the full scope of the violation and the identity of the victims. ”
State Department officials confirmed on Friday that the last two remaining US consulates in Russia, in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and in Yekaterinburg just east of the Ural Mountains, will close. In a statement, a spokesperson said the decision had been taken “to optimize the work of the US mission in Russia.”
“The resulting realignment of staff at the US Embassy in Moscow will allow us to advance our foreign policy interests in Russia in the most effective and secure manner possible,” the statement read in part.