The computer system of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., was hacked by Russian government groups, the DNC and security officials said. Photo by bmw328driver/Flickr
WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- Two Russian government hackers groups accessed the Democratic National Committee's computer network and took research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to party officials and security experts
The cyber intruders were able to read all email and chat traffic, the Washington Post reported.
A Russian Embassy spokesman said he didn't know about the hacking.
The groups also targeted the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The DNC contacted the CrowdStrike security firm in early May to investigate a suspected breach.
"The security of our system is critical to our operation and to the confidence of the campaigns and state parties we work with," said DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately. Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network."
No financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed, the DNC said.
CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry said foreign espionage groups commonly seek information about campaigns.
"We know with certainty that foreign intelligence services are constantly interested in political processes. They're interested in strategies, they're interested in foreign policy," Henry told CNBC. "The DNC and other NGOs have been targeted over the years by this very, very sophisticated group with a high degree of capability and some very sophisticated technology."
Hackers had access to the DNC network for about a year, but all were booted out last weekend during a computer cleanup.
CrowdStrike said one group, dubbed Cozy Bear, gained access last summer and was monitoring the DNC's email and chat communications. The other one, nicknamed Fancy Bear, targeted opposition research files in late April.
The two groups did not appear to be working together, CrowdStrike said.
Fancy Bear is believed to work for the GRU, or Russia's military intelligence service, Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer, told the Post. Cozy Bear possibly works for the Federal Security Service, the country's security agency, which was previously headed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The firm believes DNC employees were targeted with "spearphishing" emails, which come from someone trusted but that contain links or attachments that enable a hacker to gain access to a computer.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said May 25 that foreign hackers were likely aiming to target U.S. presidential candidates. He said he expected more cyberattacks "as the campaigns intensify."