The Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign broke into the email accounts some of the most prominent federal prosecutors' offices around the country last year, the Justice Department said. The department noted that 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four US attorney offices in New York were breached, per the AP. All told, the Justice Department said 27 US attorney offices had at least one employee's email account compromised during the hacking campaign. The DOJ said in a statement Friday it believes the accounts were compromised from May 7, 2020, to Dec. 27. Such a time frame is notable because the SolarWinds campaign, which infiltrated dozens of private sector companies and think tanks, as well as at least nine US government agencies, was first discovered and publicized in mid-December.
The list of affected offices include several large and high-profile ones like those in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, and the Eastern District of Virginia. The Southern and Eastern districts of New York, where large numbers of staff were hit, handle some of the most prominent prosecutors in the country. Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer at Columbia Law School, said office emails frequently contained all sorts of sensitive information, including case strategy discussions and names of confidential informants, when she was a federal prosecutor in New York. "I don't remember ever having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me because of security concerns," she said, noting exceptions for classified materials. The DOJ didn't provide additional details about what kind of information was taken and what impact such a hack may have on ongoing cases.
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