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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A member of the hacking group Red Hacker Alliance monitoring global cyberattacks on his computer at their office in Dongguan, China's southern Guangdong province. Photo: Nicolas Sfouri/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party is believed to be responsible for newly found hack attacks on the U.S. government, businesses and American infrastructure, cybersecurity company Mandiant said Wednesday.

Why it matters: This is the third major cybersecurity breach to hit the U.S. in recent months — including two in March blamed on hackers linked to China's government: one targeting 30,000 U.S. victims, including small businesses and local governments, the other hitting Microsoft.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Charles Carmakal, a senior vice president of Mandiant, told NBC News Wednesday, "We're starting to see a resurgence of espionage activity from the Chinese government."

Driving the news: The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement Tuesday that the breach was "affecting U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and other private sector organizations."

Zoom in: Carmakal said in an emailed statement that Mandiant "recently responded to multiple security incidents involving the exploitation of Pulse Secure VPN appliances," which is used by businesses for remote work.

  • The breach affected "dozens of organizations including government agencies, financial entities, and defense companies" in the U.S. and Europe, he said.
  • "We suspect these intrusions align with data and intelligence collection objectives by China," Carmakal added.
  • Per Carmakal, the hackers bypassed the multifactor authentication on Pulse Secure devices to access the as-yet unnamed victims' networks, accessing these sites "for several months without being detected."
"We believe that multiple cyber espionage groups are using these exploits and tools, and there are some similarities between portions of this activity and a Chinese actor we call APT5. "
— Carmakal

Of note: President Biden took office a month after cybersecurity firm SolarWinds announced it was hacked in December, in a breach that was later discovered to be part of a massive cyberattack by suspected Russian hackers on multiple government agencies and U.S. firms.

Go deeper

Senate confirms Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general

Lisa Monaco during a confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., in March 2021. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Image

The Senate voted 98-2 on Tuesday to confirm Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department, making her the agency's second highest-ranking official.

Why it matters: Monaco is expected to play a key role in Attorney General Merrick Garland's pledge to crack down on violence from domestic extremist groups, including the department's sweeping investigation of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

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