Russian Federation is the leading suspect in a sophisticated cyber attack on the unclassified email network of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, forcing the military command to shut the system down, U.S. officials said August 6. NBC said it affected around 4,000 staff who work at the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
They also add that thankfully no classified information had been stolen or compromised in the hack.
The Joint Staff’s unclassified email system, which was hacked during the last weekend of July, remains off line over a week later, CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reported. The email system will reportedly be back online by the end of the week.
Haiyan Song, SVP, Security markets, Splunk, said: “These attackers took enough data in a few minutes to shut down a vast email system for two weeks – the ramifications of which may not be fully known”.
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.
In the case of the Pentagon, NBC News says the attack appeared to rely upon an automated system that gathered huge amounts of data that was then distributed out to thousands of accounts across the internet.
Some sources are also reporting that social media accounts were used to control the attack.
“This attack was fairly sophisticated and has the indications… of having come from a state actor such as Russian Federation”. Hackers broke into the unclassified email networks of Joint staff by sending emails that looked legitimate but turned out to be containing malicious code or spear phishing attempts. This is due in part of the cyber-attack’s scope.
In a statement to AFP, Pentagon spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Valerie Henderson said, “Our top priority is to restore services as quickly as possible”.
The Kremlin denied any involvement in either of those breaches, and in July, spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the US government’s irresponsible habit of attributing blame before gathering all of the facts.
But while China cannot be ruled out definitively, the intrusion into the system is not typical of Chinese hackers, the official said.