Attack on White House unclassified network was spotted by US ally
Russian hackers have apparently hacked into an internet network used by the White House, sparking fears over the online security of the United States government.
According to The Washington Post, attackers were able to gain access to the unclassified Executive Office of the President network in what appeared to be an assault consistent with a state-sponsored attack.
The hack was reported by an unnamed ally of the US and authorities, including the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Security Service are now investigating how it was able to happen. However there has been no information regarding what if any data was taken in the attack.
White House Down
“In the course of assessing recent threats, we identified activity of concern on the unclassified Executive Office of the President network,” a White House official told the Post. “We took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity. . . . Unfortunately, some of that resulted in the disruption of regular services to users.
“Any such activity is something we take very seriously.”
The attack was reportedly discovered between two and three weeks ago, with some White House staff told to change their passwords. Some users were also disconnected from the network whilst the threat was investigated, although the source confirmed that the White House’s computers and systems had not been damaged.
The fact that a third party uncovered the hack will be particularly unsettling, especially if it does prove to be a state-sponsored assault.
“Generally it is nearly impossible to attribute attacks with 100 percent certainty but if the Kremlin is in fact implicated in this attack it could have stark ramifications on diplomatic ties between the US and Russia,” said Craig Young, security researcher at security firm Tripwire. “The biggest question in my mind however is how the white house did come to learn of the breach and what indicators are casting suspicion on Russia.”
Previously, Russian hackers have been behind cyberattacks on the likes of NATO, the Ukrainian government and U.S. defence contractors, putting the country at the top of my security providers’ list of cybercrime production.
The White House unveiled a cyber-security plan to provide protection for critical infrastructure, data-breach-notification laws and cyber-defence in May 2011. This includes guidelines on how to protect critical infrastructure, including electric grids, financial systems and transportation networks, from cyber-attackers.
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