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Mike Pompeo. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Friday evening interview that "we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians" behind a massive cyber attack that breached dozens of government agencies, think tanks and companies.

Driving the news: Pompeo's comments on "The Mark Levin Show" are the first from a Trump administration official publicly linking Russia to the hack. President Trump has yet to address the issue.

  • The State Department is one on a list of federal agencies found to have been attacked, per the Washington Post.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency said Thursday that the breach was "a grave risk to the federal government."
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied involvement in the hacking, the Post writes.

What he's saying: "I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified," Pompeo said.

  • [T]here was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. Government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well," he continued.
  • "This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity."

Catch up quick via Axios' Ina Fried: The attack, attributed to Russia, began with the targeting of security firm SolarWinds. Gaining access there allowed the nation-state hackers access to information from a variety of high-profile agencies and companies, including the Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments.

  • CISA issued an "emergency directive" last Sunday requiring all federal civilian agencies to review their networks and immediately disconnect SolarWinds Orion software products, following a suspected Russian hack on the Treasury and Commerce Department.

Of note: President-elect Biden released a statement saying his administration "will make cybersecurity a top priority" and he "will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
28 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.

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