On October 25th of last year we noted something was odd. In the evening the White House was totally unaware of what happened in the news regarding the Islamist Hatchet attack in New York against two cops a few hours earlier. Our suspicions grew the next day when the NSC meeting was moved from the White House to the State Department building; something was not passing the sniff test. We suspected a communication network breach, possibly a hack.
On October 28th our suspicions were confirmed when the White House admitted a security breach into the Executive Office of The President. The breach had taken place three days prior according to an official release to Reuters: “The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not say who might have been responsible for the activity on what was described as an unclassified computer network used by employees of the Executive Office of the President”.
Today we find out who was behind the cyber breach. The Russians hacked the communication network of the EOP (Executive Office Of The President). However, we also find out the cyber hack was far more extensive than previously shared. [ NOTE – The State Department was also hacked – So now we wonder if Russia has possession of Hillary Clinton’s emails ]
Washington (CNN)—Russian hackers behind the damaging cyber intrusion of the State Department in recent months used that perch to penetrate sensitive parts of the White House computer system, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.
While the White House has said the breach only affected an unclassified system, that description belies the seriousness of the intrusion. The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president’s schedule. While such information is not classified, it is still highly sensitive and prized by foreign intelligence agencies, U.S. officials say.
The White House in October said it noticed suspicious activity in the unclassified network that serves the executive office of the president. The system has been shut down periodically to allow for security upgrades.
The FBI, Secret Service and U.S. intelligence agencies are all involved in investigating the breach, which they consider among the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against U.S. government systems. The intrusion was routed through computers around the world, as hackers often do to hide their tracks, but investigators found tell-tale codes and other markers that they believe point to hackers working for the Russian government.
A spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment. Neither the U.S. State Department nor the Russian Embassy immediately responded to a request for comment.
Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said the White House’s use of a separate system for classified information protected sensitive national security-related items from being obtained by hackers.
“We do not believe that our classified systems were compromised,” Rhodes told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.
“We’re constantly updating our security measures on our unclassified system, but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system,” he said. “In other words, if you’re going to do something classified, you have to do it on one email system, one phone system. Frankly, you have to act as if information could be compromised if it’s not on the classified system.”
To get to the White House, the hackers first broke into the State Department, investigators believe.
The State Department computer system has been bedeviled by signs that despite efforts to lock them out, the Russian hackers have been able to reenter the system. One official says the Russian hackers have “owned” the State Department system for months and it is not clear the hackers have been fully eradicated from the system. (read more)