The Obama administration has confirmed a report that unidentified hackers targeted an unclassified computer network for the White House Military Office in an cyber attack last month.
The office handles all military related functions at the White House, including presidential transportation, communications, food service, and security of the so-called “nuclear football,” the apparatus which is kept near the president and is used to house the nuclear war plan.
“This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,” a senior administration official told ABC News after the hack attack was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, citing defense department officials.
“These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place,” the official said. “In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place.”
The hackers did not target or breach a classified system, the official added, further downplaying the incident.
The Free Beacon reports that the hackers have ties to the Chinese government, citing one defense official who called the incident one of China’s “most brazen cyber attacks against the U.S.” and indicative of a failure on the part of the administration to curb covert cyber-tactics against American targets.
The administration official would not comment on whether or not China was believed to be behind the attack.
President Obama is reportedly considering an executive order to impose new protections for U.S. computer networks after Congress failed to pass a cybersecurity bill before recessing for fall elections. Republicans had opposed the proposed new rules and regulations as unnecessary new burdens on businesses.
–Devin Dwyer and Jake Tapper