White House Confirms Computer System Breach By Russian Hackers In 2014

In line with a HotHardware report published last October, officials yesterday confirmed to CNN that the White House was hacked last year and that the alleged culprit is the Russian government.

The hackers — believed to be the same group that managed to gain entry to State Department computer system last October — were able to access sensitive information regarding President Barack Obama, including his private schedule. White House officials say although these cyber-attacks are among the most advanced to ever hit the US government, no classified systems were in breach.

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“This report is not referring to a new incident — it is speculating on the attribution of the activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network that the White House disclosed last year. Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, as we made clear at the time, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity,” National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh said in a statement.

The Russian hackers allegedly finagled their way into the White House system using the entry point they first established in the State Department system, which one official says the hackers have "owned" for quite some time. Investigators are saying that they believe the rupture in the White House system started with a phishing email launched from an account at the State Department that was leveraged by the Russian group.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a speech at an FBI cyber conference in January, "So many times, the Chinese and others get access to our systems just by pretending to be someone else and then asking for access, and someone gives it to them."

Considered to be among the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against U.S. government systems, the investigation of the White House computer system breach involves the FBI, Secret Service and U.S. intelligence agencies. ​The hackers used the common scheme of routing their movements through computer systems worldwide in order to assure anonymity, however investigators have uncovered telltale evidence definitive enough to link the activity to hackers with ties to the Russian government.

Via Executive Order President Barack Obama last week authorized the first sanctions program against cyber attackers who pose a “significant threat” to American interests. In a statement published on the website Medium, Obama wrote “Our primary focus will be on cyber threats from overseas. In many cases, diplomatic and law enforcement tools will still be our most effective response. But targeted sanctions, used judiciously, will give us a new and powerful way to go after the worst of the worst.”

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