The disclosure by department officials to Senate staff members revealed the scope of the hack of government email accounts managed through Microsoft.
Chinese hackers who gained access to the email accounts of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other government officials this year stole 60,000 emails from the State Department alone, according to two people familiar with a briefing Senate staff members received on the matter Wednesday.
The emails came from 10 State Department email accounts, department officials told Senate staff members, according to the people familiar with the briefing, one of whom is a staff member for Senator Eric Schmitt, Republican of Missouri. Nine of the 10 email accounts belonged to people working on East Asian and Pacific affairs.
The hack, which compromised Microsoft-based email accounts at the State and Commerce Departments, china-state-department-emails-microsoft-hack.html">was first reported in July. At the time, neither U.S. government officials nor Microsoft executives would disclose how many email accounts they believed had been affected, nor how many emails the hackers had taken. The scope of the hack was reported earlier Wednesday by Reuters.
Washington has not formally blamed China for the intrusion, but various U.S. officials — including Ms. Raimondo — have made the connection.
The hackers used one stolen Microsoft certificate to penetrate the State Department email accounts, Biden administration officials told Senate staff members, and that token was used to hack 25 organizations and government agencies.
It is not yet clear what the substance of the emails was. U.S. officials have downplayed the notion that sensitive information could have been caught up in the hack, arguing that it had not compromised classified email accounts. The breaches took place in the weeks before Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to China.