Russian hackers behind ‘worst ever’ White House cyberattack
Wed 8 Apr 2015
Russian hackers are suspected to have infiltrated a White House computer system, gaining access to President Barack Obama’s private itinerary among other sensitive, non-public information.
According to U.S. officials the cyberattack was the “worst ever” hack against the country’s federal agencies and experts are currently linking the attack to the Russian government, claiming that the malicious codes mirror those used recently against the State Department.
Although The White House has said that only unclassified content was accessed, and that the hack has now been mitigated, the stolen information remains highly prized by intelligence agencies monitoring U.S. operations.
Adviser to the President Ben Rhodes did not confirm whether the unclassified data had been breached and did not provide comment on the hack’s origins. However he did comment that “there’s always vulnerability” – the reason for which the White House operates a separated secure system for its classified information. Rhodes added that regular action is taken to prevent attacks on federal networks.
The break-in process is thought to have started with the Russian cyberattack on the State Department’s network in February. The hack was conducted through a phishing email scam claiming to refer to administrative duties, which subsequently infected the system with malware and allowed the hackers to penetrate the nationwide network.
The White House constantly faces attacks from foreign hackers and has come up against several highly sophisticated campaigns suspected to originate in China and Russia. In February FBI director James Clapper explained to a Senate committee that the “Russian cyber threat is more severe than […] previously assessed.”
The latest breach comes as Obama pushes his cybersecurity efforts following high profile attacks on U.S. mega corporations such as Sony and Target. Last week Obama signed an executive order extending U.S. administrative powers to react to malicious cyberattacks and foreign spying campaigns.
Congress is also in discussion to advance the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) bill which would facilitate the sharing of information linked to hacks on government bodies and private sector businesses.