Russian state sponsored computer hackers may have recently gained access to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and stolen sensitive data, Bloomberg is reporting. Citing multiple people familiar with the investigation, the hacking incident is being considered in the context of potential diplomatic and military tensions between the US and Russia and the FBI and NSA are both involved in probing the incident.

JPMorgan Chase

Russian hackers get their hands on JPMorgan’s sensitive data

Several gigabytes of sensitive data was lost, thought to include private information on employees and customers.

The report noted attacks on the U.S. financial sector from Russia and Eastern Europe have risen recently, according to several cyber security experts. Investigators are considering if recent successful attacks of major European banks is linked to the JPMorgan event. As well, consideration is being given to determine if the increase in attacks is correlated to the conflict over Russia’s behavior in Ukraine, the report said.

“Russia has a policy of reactionary attacks in relation to political contexts,” John Hultquist, an iSight cyber expert who previously warned their clients about potential Russian attacks. “When it comes to countries outside their sphere of influence, those attacks would be more surreptitious.”

U.S. and European sanctions have changed the way Western banks manage Russian clients, antagonizing Russian officials. For instance, this April, JPMorgan was harshly criticized when it blocked a payment from a Russian embassy to the affiliate of a U.S.-sanctioned bank. Russia’s foreign ministry called blocking the payment “illegal and absurd.”

Attack on JPMorgan sponsored by Russian government?

Investigators believe the attack is state sponsored in part due to its sophistication and “technical indicators extracted from the banks’ computers,” the report said.  The investigative trail is “muddy enough” to the point investigators are also considering potential cyber criminal gangs from Russia or even throughout Eastern Europe.

“The way the Russians do it, to the extent we can see into the process, is they encourage certain targets,” James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, was quoted as saying. “The Russians typically keep open the options to do something more, and the question now is what would trigger that and what would our response be.”

For its part, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)  appeared unruffled in public.

“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyber attacks nearly every day,” Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, was quoted as saying. “We have multiple, layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.”