Hackers breached Whitehouse unclassified computer networks according to unofficial reports by Whitehouse insiders. The hackers, allegedly backed by the Russian government caused an “activity of concern on the unclassified Executive Office of the President network,” reported a Whitehouse official on condition of anonymity.
Although no classified documents were compromised, the breach caused a serious network outage and loss of connectivity at the Oval office. “Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected. The temporary outages and loss of connectivity for our users is solely the result of measures we have taken to defend our networks.”
Whitehouse responded to the threat with a slew of security measures, including passwords resets and a shutdown of Whitehouse Virtual Private Network. “Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity,’’ the official told the Washington Post.
Whitehouse is yet to release an official statement nor implicate Russia in the incidence. However, credible sources privy to the matter, said top US agencies including the FBI, Secret Service, NSA and US Cyber Command are currently investigating the security breach.
“Certainly a variety of actors find our networks attractive targets and seek access to sensitive government information. We are still assessing the activity of concern, and we are not in a position to provide any additional details at this time,” said the Whitehouse source, refusing to divulge more information on the ongoing investigations.
Cyber-attacks are common threats at Whitehouse as cybercriminals try to crack probably the world’s most secure fort. “On a regular basis, there are bad actors out there who are attempting to achieve intrusions into our system,” said a second White House official. “This is a constant battle for the government and our sensitive government computer systems, so it’s always a concern for us that individuals are trying to compromise systems and get access to our networks.”
In the past, Russia has been linked to several cyber espionage cases on US, and it would not be a surprise Putin’s administration is behind the latest breach in Washington. A recent survey on the state of Russia cybercrime by Group IB indicated Russia has an unlimited number of organized cybercriminals gangs who enjoy some level of government support. Recently, hackers allegedly backed by the Russian government targeted Ukrainian government agencies, NATO computers and western European government agencies.
In 2008, Russian Intelligence service breached US military’s computer network, an operation known as Buckshot Yankee, which took the US government months to patch up. In response, the US government formed a US cyber command unit – a military organization to thwart cyber-attacks of on US organizations and help other agencies to deal with cyber threats in America.
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