Hackers break into White House network, Russian hackers blamed

29 Oct 2014

The White House in Washington, DC

Hackers are understood to have breached the White House’s unclassified computer network, temporarily disrupting services. The finger of blame is being pointed at hackers allegedly employed by the Russian government.

“Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected,” the White House said in a statement.

“The temporary outages and loss of connectivity for our users is solely the result of measures we have taken to defend our networks.”

It is understood the White House had been unaware of the breach until a third party informed it of the hack.

It is understood the hackers intended to probe and map the unclassified system to find entry points to where they connect to other systems.

The attack did not damage the systems that have been breached but did disrupt connections for workers, including intranets and VPNs, according to The Washington Post. Email systems were not affected.

It is understood that the FBI, the Secret Service and the National Security Agency are involved in investigating the attack.


Recent reports from security firms have identified cyberespionage campaigns by Russian hackers who have also targeted NATO, the government of Ukraine and various US defence contractors.

“While the White House claims the attack hasn’t caused any damage, the defensive measures put in place to respond have degraded service, which is a kind of damage and makes the attackers successful,” said Tim Erlin, director of security R&D at Tripwire.

“Even though the affected systems are unclassified, it’s unlikely that we’ll receive a full account of the activity. The White House could take an important step forward in threat intelligence sharing by being more forthcoming with details of the attack in order to help others defend themselves as effectively as possible.

“It’s not surprising that a third party notified the White House about the attack. The constant state of assault can make it difficult to identity a new threat against an ongoing threat, but clearly, something that an ally could witness changed and cause a heightened alert state.

“Russian hackers doesn’t necessarily mean Russian state hackers, nor does it exclude that conclusion. The language coming out of the White House will be very calculated when it comes to attribution.”

White House image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years