This Ranks Among Biggest Intelligence Failures Ever

Grave warnings issued about suspected Russian breach into US government systems
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 17, 2020 1:45 PM CST
'Magnitude of This Ongoing Attack Is Hard to Overstate'
The US Treasury Department building, in a file photo. The department was one of those breached by hackers.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, file)

US authorities are expressing increased alarm about an intrusion into government computer systems that officials suspect was carried out by Russia, per the AP. The cybersecurity unit of the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that the hack “poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations.” It was the most detailed comments yet from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency since reports emerged this weekend that government agencies including the State, Homeland Security, Treasury, and Commerce departments were among those whose secure data and email were penetrated by the sophisticated hack. Parts of the Pentagon also were breached. More:

  • It's bad: "The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate," writes Thomas Bossert in a New York Times op-ed. Bossert served as President Trump's homeland security adviser as a deputy adviser to George W. Bush. In the op-ed, he runs through the staggering logistics involved in fixing the breach. If Russia is indeed to blame, Trump must confront Vladimir Putin, he writes. "An intrusion so brazen and of this size and scope cannot be tolerated by any sovereign nation." Joe Biden, meanwhile, should be prepping his own response.
  • Echoing that: A story in the news section of the New York Times says it's now clear that this "ranks among the greatest intelligence failures of modern times." The story notes that the US has spent tens of billions of dollars on cybersecurity in recent years, but the defense system known as "Einstein" failed to detect the breach.
(Read more cyberattack stories.)

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