US President Donald Trump said that Russia isn’t necessarily behind recent cyberattacks targeting the US government, contradicting an earlier statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russia was “pretty clearly” involved.
Russia is always suspected when something happens, but China could also be behind the cyberattacks, Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday, breaking his days-long silence on the issue.
Trump said China’s potential role wasn’t being discussed “for mostly financial reasons” and downplayed the scale and danger of the attacks, saying media were portraying them as a bigger deal than they were and that “everything is well under control.”
In a radio interview on Friday, Pompeo put the blame squarely on Russia for the cyberattacks: “We can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”
Pompeo added that he could not comment in detail on the cyberattacks because they were still under investigation and some of the information will likely remain classified.
Russia has rejected all allegations that it was involved.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed this week that US government agencies and critical infrastructure entities were compromised by hackers since “at least March.”
US media reports suggest that Russian hackers had been targeting the US Treasury and Commerce departments, as well as other government agencies. The Department of Energy said on Friday that it had been affected by the cyberattacks.
Government agencies have been instructed to disconnect from the software SolarWinds, which is believed to be compromised.
The hackers have “demonstrated patience, operational security, and complex tradecraft in these intrusions,” CISA said, adding that removing them from the system would be “highly complex.”
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