U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Friday night interview that he believes Russia is behind a hack that breached dozens of federal agencies and companies, including the cybersecurity company FireEye.
Speaking on the Mark Levin Show, Pompeo said the effort was “pretty clearly” tied to Russia.
“I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified,” Pompeo said. “This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”
When asked if President Donald Trump would speak out during the investigation, Pompeo said sometimes the “wiser course of action to protect the American people is to calmly go about your business and defend freedom.”
FireEye, a major U.S. cybersecurity company with extensive 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 top-tier offensive capabilities.” He later said the hackers’ primary goal appeared to be to steal information from the company’s government clients.
Investigators with the FBI’s cyber division said preliminary indications suggested whoever was responsible had “a high level of sophistication consistent with a nation-state.”
The hackers appear to have accessed computer systems by first breaking into SolarWinds, an Austin-based company that provides remote information technology services to an long list of clients around the world, including a number of U.S. government agencies and major corporations.
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an emergency directive instructing federal agencies to immediately stop using the version of SolarWinds products.
The cyberattack began as early as March but was only discovered this month. Many of the targets were government agencies, companies that contract with governments or think tanks. Information and technology companies were also hit, according to Microsoft.