White House officials this week publicly admitted that during October of last year, hackers were able to access Obama’s and the State Department’s unclassified emails. This resulted in system administrators shutting down the unclassified email system for a month. Although the hackers were unable to access the classified emails in Obama’s Blackberry, they did access the email archives of people inside the White House. It is because of this second breach that actual classified information may have been leaked. These e-mails include, among other things, schedules, e-mails with ambassadors and diplomats, talks about policy and legislation changes, and information about future personnel deployments.
The attack is believed to have originated from Russia. According to the New York Times, the hack “was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged,” partly because the hacker group is presumed to be linked to, or working for, the Russian government. Although the president’s email was not directly breached, it remains unclear just how many of his emails were accessed through the accounts of other staff.
According to online security company FIreEye,this latest attack follows the modus operandi of Russian state-sponsored cyber attacks. The compile times for the malware matches the normal working hours of major Russian cities, and there is a lack of focus on monetary gain. Instead, the attacks focus on acquiring military, government and security information. Previous targets of this particular group, known as “APT28”, include US defense and military contractors and NATO officials.