Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser for US President Donald Trump, had to cut short his visit to several European countries due to a massive cyberattack on US government agencies, the Politico newspaper reported citing own sources.
According to the paper’s sources, O’Brien flew back to Washington from Paris on December 15 to address the attack, which targeted the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security and Defense, TASS reports.
The source said the change in plans was a reflection of how seriously the US authorities view the situation.
In the coming days, O’Brien will hold a series of meetings in the White House to discuss this problem.
The White House has not answered to a TASS request for a comment at the time of the publication.
The US National Security Council announced on Tuesday it was setting up a coordination group on cyber security to ensure the continuity and unity of effort. It described the attack as a significant cyber incident.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said earlier that the US authorities were aware of media reports that a group of hackers, presumably linked to Russia, hacked into computer systems of several US governmental agencies.
Earlier, the US Department of Commerce confirmed to TASS that the computer network of its agency called the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) had been hacked. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing into the incident. According to a Reuters report, the US intelligence community suspects that those who attacked the NTIA and also the Department of the Treasury might have used the same technique against other US government agencies. The situation is so serious that, according to the news agency, an urgent meeting of the National Security Council was held at the White House.
The Washington Post quotes sources as saying hackers working for the Russian government were behind the attack, which also targeted the US Department of State. The newspaper provided no evidence to back up its claims, though.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed US accusations Russian hackers are behind cyberattacks against its organizations on Monday and called upon the US authorities to stop "groundlessly blame Russians." In his words, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who invited the American side to agree and conclude an agreement on cooperation in the field of cybersecurity. "This would let both countries cooperate and resist cybercrimes and attempts at cyber blackmail and so on and so forth," he added.