Report: Chinese hack into White House network

Report: Chinese hack into White House network

Summary: Chinese hackers have penetrated the White House computer network on multiple occasions, and obtained e-mails between government officials, a senior U.S.

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TOPICS: CXO, Networking, Security
23

China barcodeChinese hackers have penetrated the White House computer network on multiple occasions, and obtained e-mails between government officials, a senior U.S. official told the Financial Times.

On each occasion, the cyber attackers accessed the White House computer system for brief periods, allowing them enough time to steal information before U.S. computer experts patched the system.

U.S. government cyber intelligence experts suspect the attacks were sponsored by the Chinese government because of their targeted nature. On the other hand, it's extremely difficult to trace the exact source of an attack beyond a server in a particular country, so the motive remains unclear.

I don't think this is the kind of diplomacy we were hoping for, was it?

The Financial Times reports:

 The official said the Chinese cyber attacks had the hallmarks of the "grain of sands" approach taken by Chinese intelligence, which involves obtaining and pouring through lots of - often low-level - information to find a few nuggets.

Some US defence companies have privately warned about attacks on their systems, which they believe are attempts to learn about future weapons systems.

The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, a new unit established in 2007 to tackle cyber security, detected the attacks on the White House. But the official stressed that the hackers had only accessed the unclassified computer network, not the more secure classified network.

"For a short period of time, they successfully breach a wall, and then you rebuild the wall ... it is not as if they have continued access," said the official. "It is constant cat and mouse."

Dana Perino, White House press secretary, declined to comment. The Chinese embassy also did not comment, but in the past China has called similar allegations reflective of "Cold-War thinking."

Cyberspace race, anyone?

Topics: CXO, Networking, Security

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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23 comments
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  • I'm not surprised.

    The first thing Bush's aids did was to switch everything over to Microsoft "solutions". Serves us right. I hope they found some good juicy stuff and put it up on the Internet.
    kozmcrae
    • re: I'm not surprised.

      "...I hope they found some good juicy stuff and put it up on the Internet."

      What kind of person would wish such a thing?
      Jim_Bob
  • RE: Report: Chinese hack into White House network

    and sometimes you have to use a sledgehammer to kill the mouse. Or a predator armed with a tactical nuke to go and visit their computer snooping places :) hint hint. Hey Bush, may as well leave with a BANG.
    ceo@...
  • China is agressively spying on us

    Open your eyes. China is grabbing every piece of technology and intelligence they can. Meanwhile they have become our biggest manufacturer, and our biggest lender.

    They have us by the n-ts.

    Comments?
    FlexMobileFan
    • Ohhhhh!

      That hurts bigtime.
      wolfmanjack_z
    • True, but

      You have to look at it the other way. We are paying them interest on money lent to us AND we are buying all their (sometimes quality, often not) products (with the very same money they lent to us). This arrangement makes it a two way street. When we stop repaying our debt to them and stop buying their products, it hurts them as much as it hurts us. It's like a two-way parasitic relationship, each one feeding off the other, and if either dies, so will the other.

      Numerous very smart economists have written books on how dangerous this arrangment is. My favorate is called "Running on Empty" by Peter G. Peterson. It is very well written without resorting to high level economics so is very approchable by folk unfamiliar with business jargon. The current economic situation is precisely following what Peterson suggested would happen as a result of Americas dual deficits (budget, trade). Look at whats happeneing to China as a result of our economy stumbling. Their job losses are as bad as ours. And we've only seen the tip of the iceberg - we have collectively refused to make sacrifices to acheive a stable and sustainable economy. Now the internation economy - just like the enviroment - will make the correction for us. Effectively and VERY painfully for all parties involved. Nothing do be done now but hunker down and hope you make it till its over. The next step is that the dollar will no longer be the standard international currency. Beyond that, I daren't hazzard a guess, but I'll go as far as to say that you all can be sure that the world in 2012 will be a VERY different place from what we've all gotten used to. To quote Stephen Colbert's The Word: "Better learn 'ya some Chinese, *****s!"


      "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
      gnesterenko
  • Do They Save Those E-mails?

    You know, the ones that were conveniently not backed up and/or written over? They could make a nice White House-warming gift for Obama...
    MichP
  • RE: Report: Chinese hack into White House network

    Don't worry the system was already hacked by Bush/Cheney et al!
    ZenWarp
  • RE: Report: Chinese hack into White House network

    Don't worry it was already hacked by Bush/Cheney et al!
    ZenWarp
  • Why would a top secret network have an internet connection?

    "...the official stressed that the hackers had only accessed the unclassified computer network, not the more secure classified network."

    I can't see the wisdom in having a classified network with a persistent internet connection. A private LAN, sure, but nothing with a consistently open door, no matter how secure.
    ronatkcrw
    • Agree!

      there should not be any reason why national secrets should be kept 'open'. you can set up any levels of security but as long as it is on the 'net' you will have somebody tryin to sniff some bits and pieces!
      insanish1
  • RE: Classified networks

    They're not connected to the Internet.

    Been there, done that.
    GeneBuettner
    • RE: RE: Classified networks

      Good.
      ronatkcrw
  • The "Lady"

    Miss Information
    trm1945
  • RE: Report: Chinese hack into White House network

    .
    robdls
  • May Be They Can Tell Us...

    where the various off shore bank accounts and fake organizations Bush/Cheney used to store all the billions they had pillaged from our treasury!!
    nothingness
    • May be they can tell us WHAT?

      That you are an idiot?
      cyndywilliams
    • If it makes you sleep better...

      the dough reportedly went to Middle East.
      mrdelurk@...
      • short term memory it seems

        Have we all forgotten that Haliburton is making billions from the rebuilding of Iraq - Dick Cheney's Halibuton? There's no reason for fake offshort accounts. It's all "legit". Just wait till Walmart and McDonnalds over there... oh wait, one of them already has, and thats just the beginning.

        "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
        gnesterenko