DOJ investigating ‘dozens’ of Russian firms for supply chain vulnerabilities to hackers

The Justice Department is investigating dozens of Russian firms for potential supply chain vulnerabilities, a top official told reporters on Thursday.

The investigation into the companies will take several months, Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. Based on its findings, the DOJ could refer cases to the Department of Commerce for disciplinary action against the firms.

Reuters was first to report Demers’ remarks.

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The disclosure came on the same day that U.S. officials enacted sweeping sanctions against 32 Russian entities and individuals for a variety of infractions. The Biden administration said the Kremlin sought to interfere in the 2020 election and blamed Russian intelligence services for the SolarWinds hack, which breached many prominent federal agencies, including the Treasury and DOJ, as well as U.S. companies.

Russian hackers exploited vulnerabilities in the private supply chain as well as weaknesses in federal cyber defense, according to the government’s findings.

The sanctions block U.S. banks from buying bonds from the Russian Central Bank, hindering Russia’s ability to borrow money. Sanctions were imposed on six Russian companies that support the country’s cyber initiatives, and 10 Russian diplomats were expelled.

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“These sanctions will serve to reduce Russian resources available to carry out similar malign activities,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said regarding the cyber-related sanctions.

US officials warned they could take further action if Russia engages in similar behavior in the future.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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