Russian hack was ‘classic espionage’ with stealthy, targeted tactics

Some kinds of online aggression are “noisy,” almost certain to draw attention, as the multifaceted Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election was. And some are “quiet,” more reminiscent of the subtle spy-vs.-spy operations fictionalized in the novels by the great John le Carré, who died Dec. 12.

The far-reaching Russian hack that sent U.S. government and corporate officials scrambling in recent days appears to have been a quietly sophisticated bit of online spying. Investigators at cybersecurity firm FireEye, which itself was victimized in the operation, marveled that the meticulous tactics involved “some of the best operational security” its investigators had seen, using at least one piece of malicious software never previously detected.

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DHS Among Those Hit in Sophisticated Cyberattack by Foreign Adversaries – Report
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), plus the Treasury and Commerce departments, have been hacked in an attack related to the FireEye compromise last week, according to reports. In addition, defense contractors and enterprises were caught up in the attack, FireEye said, which was carried out using a supply-chain attack targeting a SolarWinds network-management platform.

The Russian foreign-intelligence service is believed to be the culprit, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. “Hundreds of thousands of government and corporate networks” have been opened to potential risk, making it a notable attack that goes far beyond the garden-variety espionage attempt, the sources said.

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