(CBS News) Some of the most famous and powerful people in the country may have had sensitive information published online.
It's still unclear whether this is a real attack or simply some kind of scam. But, the FBI is trying to find out who's responsible for publicly posting the private records of some of America's biggest stars.
Some of the victims are high-profile Hollywood celebrities, from Jay-Z and Beyonce to Kim Kardashian, Mel Gibson and Paris Hilton. Others come from the power corridors of Washington: first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
And all of them have been outed, in a sense, by a Russian-based website, calling itself Exposed. The forum, fronted by a picture of a girl in dark make-up with a finger to her lips has published what appears be personal financial records.
Shawn Henry, the FBI's former top cyber official, says investigators must find out who's behind it and why. He said, "With the level of individuals targeted, identifying the motive is very important. They will be aggressively pursuing this."
The breach seems to be a serious invasion of privacy. The website reveals the celebrities' credit card reports, mortgage statements, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and loan information.
One official says some of the data seems to be correct. But, sources say some of it is not, meaning it could be out-of-date or bogus. The website claims some of the "stolen" information comes from Equifax, a credit reporting agency. Officials there are investigating the incident and tell CBS News this kind of attack has happened before and it turned out to be a scam.
But, with cyber attacks now a daily occurrence, the FBI is pressing for answers. Henry said, "We hear about these types of attacks because there are celebrities involved, and it makes the news, but the reality of it is there are more attacks, bigger attacks against more sensitive data every single day."
Henry is talking about threats to the U.S. economy and infrastructure. Businesses are losing hundreds of billions of dollars every year to cyber thieves. And even more worrisome, cyber spies now are probing sensitive systems and key control networks looking for potential vulnerabilities which some day could be exploited or shut down in a devastating attack.