White House Security Is Breached Again, But This Time the Computers Are Under Attack
As if White House officials didn’t have enough to worry about, with so many fence-jumpers and intruders turning the phrase “White House Secret Service” into little more than a punch line on Saturday Night Live, it appears that the virtual security of the White House may be at a greater risk than ever before.
Although one White House official told the Washington Post that White House computers fend off hackers and viruses on a regular basis, this particular attempt actually managed to shut down the computer system for many staffers on the Hill. It appears that no permanent damage occurred from the attack, which happened about two to three weeks ago, and as of October 29, there has been no official statement about whether or not any data had actually been stolen.
The Post reports that the internet/VPN shutdown did not affect the entire system, that staffers still had access to their email accounts, and that no classified data appears to have stolen. Even though the ongoing investigation reportedly involves the Secret Service, the F.B.I., the National Security Agency (NSA), and whichever “ally” alerted officials to the security breach, the entire ordeal seems to be kept very quiet.
To make things more interesting, according to the Post’s article, the hacking attempt was quite possibly conducted under surveillance of the Russian government. That’s right — the Russians are out to get us, according to the Washington Post. Russian hackers were believed to be behind a security breach back in 2008, and apparently that incident is enough to accuse the Russian government of the recent cyberattack.
Reuters followed up the initial Post article with a little more information in tow, noting that the attack was serious enough to be shared only with a select group of Senate and House Intelligence Committee members (the “Gang of Eight,” they are reportedly called) — but not so serious that U.S. officials are willing to pinpoint the Russian government as the culprit.
Rather than making sweeping accusations against other countries, it appears that the government is keeping this investigation as tight as possible, and is bolstering its defensive security strategies before making any dangerous conclusions. Like any major organization with a large number of servers, it can be difficult to determine if the security breach was just a blip in the system, or if it was part of a larger hacking project.
While Americans wait to find out if their President is safe, virtually speaking, other news outlets are explaining that we don’t need to gear up for another Cold War just yet, and that average Americans don’t have to worry about changing their passwords and email accounts. But this is also a warning to security officials of private corporations and organizations — a cyberattack can happen to anyone, and there’s no such thing as being too safe.
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