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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A U.S. task force responsible for investigating the massive cyberattack that breached the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security — among others — identified the hack as "likely Russian in origin," per a joint statement on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the first time the federal government has formally named Russia as the likely origin of the attack.

Catch up quick: The attackers targeted SolarWinds, the globally used network-management software that serves major companies and governments.

  • The FBI, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and other agencies gathered under the National Security Council have so far "identified fewer than ten U.S. government agencies" that were affected by the breach.
  • Roughly 18,000 people and private sector companies are known to have been impacted overall, the agencies noted.

Of note: President Trump responded to the cyberattack in mid-December, claiming the "Fake News Media" exaggerated the extent of the hack, and claimed that China may be responsible, contradicting other government officials who attributed the breach to Russia.

What they're saying: "This work indicates that an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor, likely Russian in origin, is responsible for most or all of the recently discovered, ongoing cyber compromises of both government and non-governmental networks," the agencies said.

  • "At this time, we believe this was, and continues to be, an intelligence gathering effort."

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2021 - World

Russia to pull out of Open Skies Treaty, increasing tensions with U.S.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Photo: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP via Getty

Russia will pull out of a longstanding accord that allows countries to conduct fly-over military operations across territories, following in the United States' footsteps after President Trump left the treaty last year, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced Friday.

Why it matters: Russia's exit from the Open Skies Treaty could escalate its rivalry with the U.S. as the country transitions to a new administration under President-elect Joe Biden.

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny during a march last February. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.