US Officials Say Chinese Hackers Breached White House Military Office

The attackers could have gained access to presidential communications

By on October 1st, 2012 07:23 GMT

A computer system utilized by the White House Military Office (WHMO) for nuclear commands has been breached by cybercriminals using servers located in China.

According to the official WHMO website, the agency “provides military support for White House functions, including food service, Presidential transportation, medical support and emergency medical services, and hospitality services.”

Also, “the WHMO Director oversees all military operations aboard Air Force One on Presidential missions worldwide.”

The hackers haven’t been precisely identified, but it’s believed that they could have gained access to some of the government’s most sensitive communications if their attack had been successful, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

Officials have revealed that an email-based spear phishing attack allowed the hackers to gain access to the infrastructure.

However, fortunately, the agency has cyber security mechanisms set in place to prevent such attacks. So, as soon as the attempt was identified, the compromised system was isolated.

An investigation to determine the extent of the breach is ongoing, but anonymous sources reveal that there is no indication that the cybercriminals have managed to steal any data.

Although the identity of the hackers is unknown (or remains a secret), based on the target’s role in strategic nuclear and presidential communications, the number one suspect in this case is a Chinese military cyber warfare unit governed by the 4th Department of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army.

Apparently, the information stored on WHMO’s servers could be highly valuable to China in case of a conflict, because it could be utilized to locate the president and intercept presidential communications. Furthermore, it could be successfully utilized to disrupt communications between the president and US forces.

A few days ago, intelligence officials stressed that the Pentagon’s computer systems are constantly under attack.

Security experts claim that the US White House is probably considered “the crown jewel” for cyberattacks coming from abroad, which is most likely why many campaigns are focused on penetrating it.

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Hackers take aim at the systems of the White House Military Office
   Hackers take aim at the systems of the White House Military Office