The White House is confirming reports that hackers linked to China’s government broke into one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive computer networks. This network is used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands.
“This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,” a White House official told FoxNews.com. “These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place.”
A law enforcement official who works with members of the White House Military Office confirmed the Chinese attack to FoxNews.com on Monday, but it remains unclear what information, if any, was taken or left behind.
“This [White House Communications Agency] guy opened an email he wasn’t supposed to open,” the source said.
Spear phishing is an e-mail spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data. Spear phishing attempts are not typically initiated by “random hackers” but are more likely to be conducted by perpetrators out for financial gain, trade secrets or military information.
Anup Ghosh, founder and CEO of security company Invincea, said that an email had likely been opened which contained a link to a malicious site or some form of attachment that would allow the Chinese hacker access to the system.
The Washington Free Beacon first broke the story. Bill Gertz reports,
Details of the cyber attack and the potential damage it may have caused remain closely held within the U.S. government.
However, because the military office handles strategic nuclear and presidential communications, officials said the attack was likely the work of Chinese military cyber warfare specialists under the direction of a unit called the 4th Department of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, or 4PLA.
It is not clear how such a high-security network could be penetrated. Such classified computer systems are protected by multiple levels of security and are among the most “hardened” systems against digital attack.
However, classified computer systems were compromised in the past using several methods. They include the insertion of malicious code through a contaminated compact flash drive; a breach by a trusted insider, as in the case of the thousands of classified documents leaked to the anti-secrecy web site Wikileaks; and through compromised security encryption used for remote access to secured networks, as occurred with the recent compromise involving the security firm RSA and several major defense contractors.
According to the former official, the secrets held within the WHMO (White House Military Office) include data on the so-called “nuclear football,” the nuclear command and control suitcase used by the president to be in constant communication with strategic nuclear forces commanders for launching nuclear missiles or bombers.
The office also is in charge of sensitive continuity-of-government operations in wartime or crises.
In addition, numerous banks such as Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Bank of America have claimed to be hacked by Muslims in revenge for the “Innocence of Muslims” film.
Now friends I’m just going to ask you if you find any of this curious in light of the fact that a cybersecurity executive order is being put together as we speak.. I’m not saying the attacks aren’t real. We have real enemies. I’m merely pointing out the fact that it seems very timely in light of the EO being prepared by Obama administration.
Personally, I think something is rotten in Denmark.