A security intelligence company has found the stolen log-in credentials for up to 47 US government agencies accessible online.
Passwords were found on public websites such as Pastebin, where hackers often dump data.
Recorded Future said it was impossible to say whether all the passwords were active.
The details were likely to have been stolen when used to access malware-ridden sites.
Recorded Future’s report said many government employees had used their official emails, and possibly the same passwords, to log in to third-party web services that had been hacked.
The company scanned more than 680,000 web sources over the course of a year. It found 705 emails and passwords originating from government agencies.
The data was connected with the departments of defence, justice, the treasury and energy as well as the CIA and the director of National Intelligence.
“The presence of these credentials on the open web leaves these agencies vulnerable to espionage, socially engineered attacks, and tailored spear-phishing attacks against their workforce,” the company said on its blog.
Recorded Future called on government departments to make their networks more secure by requiring staff to use two-factor authentication, which requires users to have two separate components to their log-ins, and only allowing them to remotely access their systems via virtual private networks.
“It isn’t that these agencies don’t know what to do, it is just that they aren’t implementing the changes,” said Scott Donnelly, a senior analyst at Recorded Future.
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