White House unclassified network hacked

Last week, as he launched his BuySecure initiative, President Obama renewed his call to Congress to enact overdue cybersecurity legislation to help protect Americans from data breaches.

This week, anonymous White House officials have revealed to the Washington Post that hackers breached the unclassified White House network in recent weeks, ‘resulting in temporary disruptions to some services’. There is – as yet – no evidence that the White House’s classified network was hacked, and the hackers did not damage any systems.

Such intrusions are not unexpected. White House officials told the Washington Post: “On a regular basis there are bad actors out there who are attempting to achieve intrusions into our system. 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.”

The White House is not publicly speculating on the identity of the perpetrators, nor is it commenting on whether or not any data was actually taken, but the hack bears all the hallmarks of a state-sponsored attack. Speculation points the finger of blame at Russia, which has recently been engaging in hacking campaigns targeting NATO, the Ukrainian Government, and others.

The Russian intelligence service was also responsible for a 2008 breach of the US military’s classified networks, which hastened the creation of US Cyber Command, a military organization dedicated to defending the country’s critical computer systems from cyber attack.

The urge to raise a cynical eyebrow at the timing of this announcement is barely resistible. Will Congress be persuaded to enact cybersecurity legislation now that there is more of a palpable threat to the nation’s security? We shall see.

For more information on the state of America’s fight against cyber crime, see IT Governance’s infographic Fighting Cyber Crime in the US, which aggregates the latest facts and figures, or read our free information pages on cybersecurity.

Fighting cyber crime infographic