Image purported to be Michelle Obama’s passport posted online
WASHINGTONAn image purported to be a scanned copy of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s passport was leaked online on Sept. 22 alongside personal emails said to belong to a low-level White House staffer who worked with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the passport or related documents, the latest dump of sensitive material by a hacking entity U.S. intelligence officials suspect is linked to Russia.
The White House on Sept. 22 declined to comment on their validity, but spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration was taking the matter seriously.
“We’re aware of those media reports, and it is something we’re looking into,” AFP quoted U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch as saying at a news conference.
The emails published on Sept. 22 appear to be from a Gmail account belonging to staffer Ian Mellul and largely contain mundane information concerning planning logistics for Clinton campaign events.
The leak is the latest in a set of files targeting U.S. politicians and political insiders to be disclosed by a group calling itself DC Leaks.
Last week the group published personal emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell showing his distaste for Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump.
Powell confirmed to Reuters the hacked messages were authentic.
Cyber security experts and U.S. intelligence officials have said the DC Leaks group, which says it is operating in the name of anti-secrecy, is a front for a wide-ranging hacking operation by the Russian government that also has breached Democratic party organizations and at least two state election systems.
The U.S. Secret Service “is concerned any time unauthorized information that might pertain to one of the individuals we protect, or our operations, is allegedly disclosed,” said Nicole Mainor, a spokeswoman for the agency. She declined to comment further, citing a policy of not providing information about investigations.
Yahoo hack hit of 500 mln users likely ‘state sponsored’
Meanwhile, Yahoo said Sept. 22 that a massive attack on its network in 2014 allowed hackers to steal data from half a billion users and may have been “state sponsored.”
Yahoo, which confirmed details of the breach months after reports of a major hack, said its investigation concluded that “certain user account information was stolen” and that the attack came from “what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.”
“Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen,” said a statement by the U.S. internet giant in what is likely the largest-ever breach for a single organization.
“Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.”
The comments come after a report earlier this year quoted a security researcher saying some 200 million accounts may have been accessed and that hacked data was being offered for sale online.
Yahoo said the stolen information may have included names, email addresses, birth dates, and scrambled passwords, along with encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers that could help hackers break into victims’ other online accounts.
While there is no official record of the largest breaches, many analysts have called the Myspace hack revealed earlier this year as the largest to date, with 360 million users affected.