White House hackers accessed president’s schedule: CNN
October attackers, believed to be Russian, saw sensitive data stored on non-classified network
Russian hackers who penetrated the US White House's non-classified systems last year obtained access to confidential information, including the president's schedule, CNN reported.
Unnamed US officials said the information obtained, while not classified, was still of value to foreign intelligence agencies, despite White House spokespeople having previously assured media that no sensitive information had been accessed by the attackers.
Since the breach in October, in which attackers used State Department computers as a springboard for the incursion, the White House has scrambled to introduce security upgrades to the non-sensitive network used by its staff. The FBI, Secret Service and other US intelligence agencies continue to investigate the breach.
The White House has yet to formally name a suspect, but CNN reported that investigators believe the attack, considered to be among the most sophisticated ever launched against a US government agency, bears the hallmarks of hackers working on behalf of the Russian government.
The White House uses a separate network for storage of national-security-related information.
"We do not believe that our classified systems were compromised," said Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, speaking to 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."
According to CNN, investigators believe October's attack began with a spear-phishing campaign that used a hijacked State Department email account. In spear-phishing, a targeted individual is encouraged to click on a link and divulge sensitive information that can include security credentials, by convincing them they are communicating with a trusted party.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, told an FBI cyberconference in January that spear-fishing was becoming a problem for US government departments.
"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," he said.