White House

Russian Hackers Top Suspect in White House Computer Breach

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White House computer networks were hacked on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. It is believed that the attack is associated with the Russian government. Officials who confirmed the attack wished to remain anonymous due to the ongoing investigation, which also includes the Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency.

It was also reported this week that a group of security researchers identified a Chinese cyberespionage group that targets the US government.

The breach at the White House was to an unclassified computer network but even systems that are supposed to have high-level security are being attacked lately by hackers. Financial services have some of the strictest data security requirements and yet are among the most attacked due to the value of the information they store.

Finance giant JP Morgan was recently hacked resulting in the loss of customer information. While no sensitive data was collected, email addresses could be used in future phishing attacks and raises the question whether more sensitive networks and information could be reached by persistent hackers.

Despite the close timing of the attacks, senior director at cyber threat intelligence firm iSight Stephen Ward told the Washington Post that there is no indication that the White House breach is related to the recent hacks at US banks.

The attacks caused some service outages at the White House only lasting a few hours. The Huffington Post obtained an internal email stating, “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 that users have been experiencing is solely the result of measures we have taken to defend our networks.”

Indications of the source of the attack are due to reports by iSight on the exploitation of the zero day flaw by Russian hackers working for the government. The report says, “Russia is increasing its cyber-espionage focus and the volume is up in 2014.” Recent targets have included Nato and the European Unions. Sources told the Washington Post that the nature of the White House attack is “consistent with a state-sponsored campaign.”

“On a regular basis, there are bad actors out there who are attempting to achieve intrusions into our system,” a second White House official told the Washington Post. “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.”

According to an expert at Avecto Consultancy & Technology Services, some of these breaches can be prevented by simple security measures. “One of the things we always abdicate, and I’m astounded how many times this holds true in all of these breaches that come out in the media is that you take a proactive approach to security lots of the times these issues these attacks simply would not be the case if those organizations were very proactive about their security rather than reactive,” said Andrew Avanessian, EVP to the WHIR in a previous interview.

The Washington Post says the breach was discovered about two to three weeks ago and some network users were asked to change their passwords.


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