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‘Major’ hack on US Marshals system; personal data compromised

Typing on a computer. (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 28, 2023

Sensitive data was stolen from the U.S. Marshals Service over a week ago in a major hack that compromised personal information on the agency’s employees and targets.

Describing it as “a major incident,” Marshals Service spokesperson Drew J. Wade said the “ransomware and data exfiltration event” affected a standalone computer system on Feb. 17, NBC News reported. A senior law enforcement official said hackers accessed information about some fugitives wanted by federal authorities, the New York Times reported.

“The affected system contains law enforcement sensitive information, including returns from legal process, administrative information, and personally identifiable information pertaining to subjects of USMS investigations, third parties, and certain USMS employees,” Wade said.

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The hack did not breach the federal witness protection program database, according to a senior law enforcement official. The Marshals Service runs that program and also protects judges, transports federal prisoners, and executes federal arrest warrants.

Wade said the hacked system was disconnected from the network, and a Justice Department forensic investigation is ongoing.

Ransomware attacks, in which hacked data is held for ransom, are on the rise and increasingly targeting critical infrastructure, as reported by the New York Times. A $4.4 million ransomware attack shut down a major oil pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline, for nearly a week in 2021.

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The Biden administration called attention to the issue that year, warning business leaders of the “very concerning shift from data theft to disrupting critical services” and urging them to “immediately convene their leadership teams” to determine their level of risk, as reported by CNN.

Other types of cyberattacks have also recently hit government agencies. A suspected Russian “Trojan horse”-style hack in 2020 is considered possibly the worst ever suffered by the U.S., potentially affecting all five military branches, the State Department, multiple other agencies, and hundreds of the largest U.S. corporations, as reported by Bloomberg.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.