Russian Hackers Obtained Obama Emails

security, hacking

Last autumn’s hack on the White House was more serious than was reported at the time, according to the New York Times

A hack on White House systems by Russian attackers last year was more serious than was disclosed at the time, resulting in the compromise of non-classified emails written by US President Barack Obama, according to a Saturday report.

The hackers obtained archived emails of people inside the White House, and possibly some outside, with whom Obama regularly communicated, according to The New York Times, which cited unnamed senior US government officials briefed on the investigation.

Sensitive data

Russian special forces © Darren Baker, Shutterstock 2012

The officials reportedly said the emails could have contained sensitive information including schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of personnel moves and legislation.

The attack also affected the US State Department, but does not seem to have compromised the US government’s classified network, Jwics (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System), or Obama’s email or BlackBerry accounts, according to the report.

The hack was first disclosed in October of last year, when an official told The Washington Post that an “activity of concern” had been detected on the unclassified Executive Office of the President network, with remediation measures resulting in “the disruption of regular services to users”.

CNN reported earlier this month that the breach was more serious than had first been reported, and that Russia was likely to have been responsible, claiming hackers had obtained information on Obama’s schedule. Last week Kaspersky Lab said the malware used in the attacks indicated a Russian origin.

Russian threat

The New York Times’ sources confirmed that the attack seems to have originated from Russia and was probably linked to the Russian government.

Officially, the US government has declined to identify those it believes are responsible for the incident, in contrast to last year’s hack on Sony Pictures, for which it publicly accused North Korea.

Officials are releasing a minimum of information about the incident in order to avoid letting Russia know what was learned in the investigation, according to the report’s sources.

The breach occurred at a time of heightened political tensions with Russia.

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