White House Network Hacked By Chinese On Multiple Occasions

According to Demetri Sevastopulo from Financial Times, Chinese hackers have penetrated the White House computer network on multiple occasions, and obtained e-mails between government officials. US officials say Chinese hackers have raided White House email archives multiple times. The Financial Times reports some people it describes as “US government cyber experts” suspect the raids were sponsored by the Chinese regime.
Each attack cracked the unclassified network’s defenses for a short time. The classified network remained secure, according to Financial Times. The official said the Chinese cyber attacks had the hallmarks of the “grain of sands” approach taken by Chinese intelligence, which involves obtaining and pouring through lots of - often low-level - information to find a few nuggets.
“For a short period of time, they successfully breach a wall, and then you rebuild the wall  …  it is not as if they have continued access. It is constant cat and mouse on this stuff,” the source reportedly said.
The FT’s revelations came just days after Newsweek reported that both the Obama and McCain campaigns had been hacked from overseas, with large amounts of data downloaded, apparently in an attempt to track the candidates’ evolving policy positions. This could of course potentially help the unnamed foreign entities in future negotiations.
The campaign attacks were picked up by the authorities, with the FBI and the Secret Service notifying the Obama campaign back in August that what staffers thought was a virus was something more sinister.
“You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an FBI agent reportedly told Obama staff members. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.”
The US has increased efforts to tackle cyber security, particularly since Chinese hackers believed to be associated with the Peoples’ Liberation Army last year perpetrated a major attack on the Pentagon.
US military computer experts battled for weeks against a sustained attack that eventually overcame the Pentagon’s defenses. The cyber attackers managed to obtain information and emails traffic from the unclassified computer system that supports Robert Gates, the defense secretary. Pentagon IT technicians were forced to take the network down for days to conduct repairs.
Concerns about Chinese hacking last year prompted President George W. Bush to tell reporters ahead of a meeting with President Hu Jintao of China that he might raise the issue with countries of concern.
Over the past year, the US government has tightened restrictions on officials using BlackBerrys and computers overseas, particularly in Russia and China, and sometimes bars them from removing the equipment from US government aircraft in the country.
In another incident, US government cyber investigators have determined that an attack this summer on the Obama and McCain campaign computer networks also originated in China. Details of the intrusion were first reported by Newsweek.
”There is no doubt that foreign governments are actively targeting cyber space not only for sensitive information but to influence our most sensitive processes such as the US presidential election,” said Sami Saydjari, head of the Cyber Defence Agency, a private company that advises government on hacking.
While the US has raised concerns about cyber attacks, many governments believe the US is also engaged in electronic spying. Bob Woodward, the veteran Washington Post reporter, this year revealed that the US had been spying on the Iraqi government.

No comments: