From Russia With Love: Russians Suspected in Pentagon Breach

russia-hacks-pentagon-world-war-china-cyberRussian hackers are suspected of infiltrating an unclassified e-mail system used by employees of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.

An electronic intrusion by means of a cyber-attack against the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff’s unclassified email system has resulted in the shutting down of the email system and computer network for nearly two weeks, US military officials told the Washington Post.

The “sophisticated cyber intrusion” was first detected on July 25 and has affected nearly 4,000 military and civilian employees and personnel working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon detection, the Pentagon immediately disabled the email system and the network still remain offline at the time of this article. Officials hope and expect the email system to be restarted in the coming days.

A Sophisticated Attack

Although the attack was disclosed by the Defense Department shortly after the detection, Russia’s hand in the cyber attack was brought to light recently following an investigation. Officials strongly believe that the complexity of the cyber-attack points to clear signs of state-sponsored hacking.

Also read: Russian Hackers Used Flash Vulnerability Against Foreign Governments

“This attack was fairly sophisticated and has the indications… of having come from a state actor such as Russia.”

Despite such claims, officials are yet to determine whether the attack was triggered by agents within the Russian government or by certain individuals acting by their own accord. Previous attacks and subsequent investigations show that finding the original hackers or even locating the origin of the attacks can be a notoriously hard task.

“Attribution in this business is near impossible. Rarely are you ever able to say with 100 percent certainty,” said an official who routinely deals with cyber-attacks targeting government networks.

A second defense official added that the cyber-attack was a spear phishing attack devised to target the personal information of military personnel.

Classified Information Still Safe

russia-hacks-pentagonOfficials went on to stress that no classified information was breached or compromised. Only unclassified information and emails were exposed and the damage done due to this hack is insignificant, they added.

The Pentagon took the drastic step of completely shutting down the system completely, immediately after the cyber attack was detected. In the days following the aggressive decision to shut the email network, the Pentagon has gone about cleaning out the system entirely to ensure that it is secure once it goes online again.

Officials also confirm that the Pentagon is sharing the results of the investigations with other branches of the US Government to help improve cyber security. The cyber-attack is one of many recent attacks targeting the US Government’s entities. Chinese hackers are suspected of being the instigators of a recent hack that resulted in the breach of personal information and records of nearly 4 million federal employees.

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Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.