Wilbur Ross: Cyberattack on US Treasury, Commerce Dept. taken 'very seriously'

Commerce Secretary Ross: We’re taking the cyber hack ‘very seriously’

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says there will be more revelations ‘soon’ regarding the cyber hack backed by a foreign government on the U.S. Treasury Department and an agency within the Commerce Department.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told “Varney & Co.” on Monday that the cyber hack backed by a foreign government on the U.S. Treasury Department and an agency within the Commerce Department is being taken “very seriously.”

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He noted that he can’t disclose details regarding the alleged cyber hack, but added that there will be more revelations “soon.”

“Under our protocol, with the intelligence community we really can’t get into further details because if we did, it would give them a clue as to how far along we are with understanding how they did it,” Ross explained.

On Sunday, the U.S. government acknowledged reports that hackers backed by a foreign government have breached the departments.

“The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot told FOX Business in a statement.

The elaborate cyber hack was launched on the Treasury Department as well as the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA, a U.S. agency that is tasked with crafting Internet and telecommunications policy, Reuters reported. Sources told the outlet that the hack was so serious it led to a National Security Council meeting on Saturday.

Hackers reportedly used the organization's Microsoft Office 365 platform to monitor staff members’ emails for months.


A spokesperson for the Commerce Department confirmed the breach, adding that it has "asked CISA and the FBI to investigate." A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment to FOX Business.

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, said in a statement that the agency has been working closely with its partners regarding "recently discovered activity on government networks."

"CISA is providing technical assistance to affected entities as they work to identify and mitigate any potential compromises,” the spokesperson added.

An FBI spokesperson said it can "neither confirm nor deny details related to any ongoing investigation," citing the agency's standard practice.

On Monday, host Stuart Varney asked Ross, “If you know what they’ve [hackers] done and where they got into are you then taking steps to correct the flaw in the system?”

“These systems are very complicated and it’s not always just one flaw. There are a whole bunch of firewalls, there are a whole bunch of defenses,” Ross responded. “It’s really more complicated than just one hole.”

Ross also weighed in on security threats from China on Monday, telling Varney that he hopes the Biden transition team will maintain a hard line on China and its spying on U.S. technology because it is needed.


“If we don’t maintain a hard line, China will achieve their 2025 plan of becoming the dominant power in the world in terms of all the key technologies,” Ross warned.

“We have dealt with Huawei, we dealt with ZTE, we dealt with their semiconductor industry. We’re dealing with all kinds of issues,” Ross said.

“If there’s any letting up at all, they will accelerate their process because they push as hard as they possibly can until they meet with enough determined assistance on our part that they have to stop.”

In June, the Federal Communications Commission announced it had formally designated China's Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE as threats to national security, Reuters reported, adding that the declaration barred U.S. firms from tapping a more than $8 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies.


Fox News’ Lucas Manfredi contributed to this report.

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