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Pompeo, Trump Clash Over Big Cyberattack

The president says it might have been China
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 19, 2020 11:26 AM CST

(Newser) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Russia was behind the grave cyberattack against the US, per the AP, the first administration official to publicly tie the Kremlin to the widespread intrusion. It's not clear exactly what the hackers were seeking, but experts say it could include nuclear secrets, blueprints for advanced weaponry, COVID-19 vaccine-related research, and information for dossiers on key government and industry leaders. "We're still unpacking precisely what it is, and I'm sure some of it will remain classified," Pompeo said Friday. "This was a very significant effort," he added, "and I think it's the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity."

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But Trump painted a different picture in his Twitter account. "The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control," he tweeted. "Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!)." Russia has said it had "nothing to do" with the attack. What makes this hacking campaign so extraordinary is its scale: 18,000 organizations were infected from March to June by malicious code that piggybacked on popular network-management software from Texas-based SolarWinds. It's going to take months to kick elite hackers out of the US government networks, officials say.

(Read more hacking stories.)

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