Hmm, anyone want to place bets on what "foreign entity" has been hacking into Obama and McCain campaign computers, as Newsweek reports? Could it be the same country (China) that penetrated the White House's email archive system and lifted email conversation between top officials, as the Financial Times reports?
In the middle of summer, Obama campaign leaders were told in no uncertain terms by the Secret Service and FBI that they had suffered a serious breach:
"You have a problem way bigger than what you understand," an agent told Obama's team. "You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system." The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: "You have a real problem ... and you have to deal with it."
McCain's computer system was similarly compromised.
But this wasn't a phishing expedition to gain the personal information of millions of supporters. White House and FBI officials said a foreign entity sought information on the evolution of policy position. The Obama campaign hired a security firm, which plugged the leaks.
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official told the Financial Times that Chinese hackers breached the White House network multiple times, stealing information each time before the system was patched.
"We are getting very targeted Chinese attacks so it stretches credulity that these are not directed by government-related organizations,” said the official.
The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force said the hackers had accessed the unclassified network not the classified network, which is more secure.
”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.”
These events shine a spotlight on President-elect Obama's choice of a chief technology officer. Whoever fills that position will have to put cyberwarfare and strengthening government network security at the top of his list. That will mean close coordination with the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the State Department.
”There is no doubt that foreign governments are actively targeting cyber space not only for sensitive information but to influence our most sensitive processes such as the US presidential election,” said Sami Saydjari, head of the Cyber Defence Agency, a private company that advises government on hacking. “This underscores the need for President-elect Obama to take leadership in the cyber space race that is well underway.”