Russian hackers breached the Microsoft email accounts used by 80 percent of the staffers in New York’s four US attorney offices last year, the Justice Department said.
Large numbers of staff were hit in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, which handle some of the most high-profile cases in the country, including ongoing probes of former President Trump and his attorney, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The local offices were among 27 US attorney offices nationwide that had at least one email account compromised by the same group that pulled off the massive SolarWinds data breach last year, The Associated Press reported. High profile offices like Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and the Eastern District of Virginia were among those hacked.
DOJ said it appears the accounts were compromised from May 7 to Dec. 27, 2020. The SolarWinds campaign, which reached into dozens of private companies and think tanks, along with at least nine US government agencies and the Republican National Committee, was discovered in mid-December.
Federal prosecutors share significant sensitive information about cases via email, including case strategy discussions and names of confidential informants.
“I don’t remember ever having someone bring me a document instead of emailing it to me because of security concerns,” although there were exceptions for classified materials, former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, told the AP.
DOJ did not say what kind of information was taken or if it would impact any cases.
The department said in January that it had no indication that any classified systems were impacted.