Reports: Chinese Hackers Target State and Commerce Officials in Microsoft Breach

State and Commerce Department officials’ email accounts were targeted by Chinese hackers, The New York Times and CNN reported.

The hackers targeted the accounts in the weeks before Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Beijing last month, according to the outlets. Microsoft previously reported Tuesday that accounts from 25 organizations, including federal agencies, were targeted in the attack.

U.S. government officials have insisted that no sensitive information was accessed in the compromised accounts, the Times reported. The State Department first discovered the hack on June 16 and informed Microsoft that day, according to the outlet.

The Times reported the hack did not appear to be directly related to Blinken’s visit and that investigations into what materials were compromised are in the early stages.

Microsoft said an investigation it conducted found the hack began in May.

“This type of espionage-motivated adversary seeks to abuse credentials and gain access to data residing in sensitive systems,” Microsoft said in a report.

A spokesperson for the Chinese government called the allegation of hacking “disinformation,” according to The Associated Press.

According to the Times, U.S. officials said that only a few email addresses from each of the 25 organizations were targeted, but it is unclear exactly how many were accessed.

Microsoft claimed Chinese hacking group Storm-0558 committed the attack. In May, the company announced another Chinese group had attempted to hack U.S. cyber infrastructure.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said his committee is closely monitoring the situation.

“It’s clear that the [People’s Republic of China] is steadily improving its cyber collection capabilities directed against the U.S. and our allies,” Warner said in a statement.

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