Russian government hackers have stolen opposition research on Donald Trump after penetrating the computer network of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the party’s boss said, Sky News reports.
DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said no other information, including financial or personal details of donors, appeared to be compromised in the hack.
She called the incident “serious” and said the committee “worked as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network”.
The hackers reportedly gained access to DNC computers nearly a year ago “but all were expelled over the past weekend”, US officials told the Washington Post.
The Post, which first reported the hack, said “intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system they also were able to read all email and chat traffic”.
The newspaper reported that Russian spies also targeted the networks of Mr Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Computer systems belonging to some Republican political action committees were also reportedly targeted.
A Russian Embassy spokesperson denied having any knowledge of the hack.Cyber security firm CrowdStrike, which helped clean up the breach, said two Russian hacker groups infiltrated the network – the first of which gained access last summer.
Dmitri Alperovitch, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, told Reuters his firm began assisting the DNC in May, about a month after the second group penetrated the system.
He said one of the groups, called Cozy Bear, may be working for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). FSB was once run by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr Alperovitch said the second group, nicknamed Fancy Bear, was likely working on behalf of Russia’s military.
He said both groups were among “the best threat actors that we’ve ever encountered”, but it did not appear they had been working together. Cyber attacks on political candidates and organisations are not uncommon.
US National Intelligence director James Clapper said last month he was aware of attempted hacks on campaigns and related groups and that he expected more as the November elections nears.