White House Remains Elusive Regarding Russian Hackers

White House Remains Elusive Regarding Russian Hackers
Image from Flickr by Tim Pierce
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3033416112 102017a143 z White House Remains Elusive Regarding Russian Hackers
Image from Flickr by Tim Pierce

Hackers have gained access to vital components of White House’s computer system, accessing sensitive information on President Barack Obama, including private details and official schedules. While investigators have already identified the perpetrators as Russian hackers, the White House remains adamant not to name them.


Russian hackers accessed White House’s highly sensitive and prized information

Russian hackers have used a breach they conducted back in October 2014 to penetrate sensitive and highly prized information from the White House’s computer system, unnamed investigators revealed to CNN. According to sources, the FBI, the Secret Service and U.S. intelligence agencies were all involved in the investigation of the October 2014 breach. The incident has since been described as “the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against U.S.” While the penetration was traced to have come from computers located in different countries around the world, investigators saw distinct marks associated with the Russian government, the report from CNN stated.

Despite all efforts to eradicate the breach from last year, investigators believe that the Russian hackers were able to reenter the White House’s system. Another possibility is that the hackers remained inside the system since last year. According to investigators who have spoken with CNN under the condition of anonymity, the hackers launched a phishing email through the State Department account.

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National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh remained consistent not to point to Russian hackers as the perpetrators of the breach. Officials have taken immediate measures to address the October 2014 hack, he said. But as for the CNN’s current report, “we are not going to comment on [this] article’s attribution to specific actors,” Stroh said.

Ben Rhodes, Mr Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said they were confident that no classified systems were compromised from the hack. He also refused to associate the breach with the Russian hackers.

The White House has always been elusive

In October 2014, press secretary Josh Earnest admitted that the White House has detected some activity of concern on the computer network but has since denied any link to Russian hackers.

“It would be unwise, I think for rather obvious reasons, for me to discuss from here what we have learned so far.  So what I can tell you as a general matter, though, is something that will not be particularly surprising to you.  There are many people around the world who would love to gain greater insight into the activities of the United States government by collecting information from the White House network,” Earnest said at that time.

He said that the White House is subject to cyber attacks on a day-to-day basis. Asked if the White House has no idea as to the identity of the hackers, Earnest said that giving information on the matter will compromise efforts already made to stop the perpetrators.

“I’m saying that it would be unwise for me to discuss right now what exactly that we know.  And the reason for that is simply that we have taken steps to evaluate this activity of concern and to mitigate the risk associated with that activity.  Our efforts are ongoing, and by publicly revealing what we know it might affect our ability to learn more,” said during a press briefing.

One member of the press described Russian hackers as “prolific,” asking if the White House shares the same view without specifically connecting to the case in point.

“I would say about that is there are a number of nations and organizations around the globe that are engaged in efforts to collect information about U.S. government activity.  And it’s not a surprise — we’re certainly aware of the fact that those individuals or organizations, or even countries, might view the White House computer network as a valuable source of information.  And that is why we remain vigilant about ensuring that that network is protected.”

Until the end of the briefing, Earnest avoided to answer questions asking him to detail the nature of the breach, the effects or disturbances it has brought the government and the steps taken to track down the culprits.

“I’m not in a position to talk in any detail about how the nature of this threat was detected.  I’m not in a position to talk about sort of the methods that were — or what we know about the methods that were used by the individual who was conducting this activity of concern.”

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