A White House computer network suffered what is believed to be a state-sponsored cyberattack from Russia sometime in the last few weeks, which affected “some elements of the unclassified network” according to the Obama administration.
Anonymous White House officials told the Washington Post the classified network was not breached, but that elements of the unclassified Executive Office of the President network were temporarily down while investigators work to assess and contain the breach.
“In the course of assessing recent threats, we identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network,” the source told the Post. “Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity.”
The White House is withholding naming suspects, but sources behind the disclosure said the attack is consistent with attacks boasting state-sponsorship, and Russia has been named as the likely party.
“Certainly, a variety of actors find our networks to be attractive targets and seek access to sensitive information. We are still assessing the activity of concern,” the source said.
The attack was discovered two to three weeks ago, after the U.S. was alerted to the breach by an ally, and the FBI, NSA and Secret Service are all taking part in the investigation. The White House has not revealed whether or not any data was taken.
After the breach was uncovered, White House staff were reportedly told to change their passwords and some users were temporarily disconnected from the network.
The White House is a frequent target of cybersecurity threats, which emerge almost daily.
“On a regular basis, there are bad actors out there who are attempting to achieve intrusions into our system,” another source said. “This is a constant battle for the government and our sensitive government computer systems, so it’s always a concern for us that individuals are trying to compromise systems and get access to our networks.”