Hackers Breached White House Network… And Some Other Country Told The US About It

from the best-cybersecurity-folks? dept

So, there’s a story in the Washington Post that’s getting a bit of attention about how Russian hackers apparently breached a White House computer network (an unclassified network, so not as troubling as it could have been). And that story is kind of interesting, but it seems like the bigger deal is this:

U.S. officials were alerted to the breach by an ally, sources said.

Wait a second. After all we’ve been told about the brilliant minds at the NSA/US Cyber Command and their “cybersecurity” skills — it seems immensely troubling that (1) the US didn’t catch this themselves and (2) that some other country did catch it. So, uh, just why is some “ally” monitoring the White House’s network?

As for the rest of the report, as the Washington Post notes, this isn’t even that big of a deal. Foreign state hackers are always going to try to breach US government computers, and sometimes they’re going to succeed. That’s the nature of the beast. But, it does seem profoundly odd that it was discovered by some other country.

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Comments on “Hackers Breached White House Network… And Some Other Country Told The US About It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Ally telling US is not an indication that NSA did not know

The NSA is infamous for giving up information only under very direct questioning from very powerful people. The administration has repeatedly claimed that it learns of various scandals from news reports, so it likely is not exercising whatever supervisory power it has over the NSA. From this, it follows that just because the White House had to learn about the breach from an ally does not mean that the NSA did not know about it. It only follows that the NSA did not tell the White House, maybe because it did not know or maybe because volunteering information is just such an alien concept to NSA employees.

Anonymous Coward says:

Glancing back at the previous stories of today, I’d guess that something along the lines of the “UK’s GCHQ Can Get Warrantless Access To Bulk NSA Data” happened. The other guys noticed something in the data they searched and tipped off the NSA/White House/whatever. Assuming that the NSA/equivalent believes in their own good faith and doesn’t search their own data as wantonly as they’d search data gathered from a foreign source.

Or it might just be that the ally noticed the tracks others left as they themselves sneaked in. Whichever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Even more likely: GCHQ was tracking the foreign attackers already and flagged up the intrusion after they wandered in to US Gov’t property.

There’s more than one way to notice an intrusion, after all. Since it was an ally that noticed, it would make sense for them to be monitoring the other end of the connection.

Anonymous Coward says:

All good points.

“maybe because it did not know or maybe because volunteering information is just such an alien concept to NSA employees”

Or maybe because they needed time to remove their own trail,

or maybe because they wanted to see how good the team monitoring the WH were,

or maybe they wanted to see which ally would tell the WH and which wouldn’t even though all of them knew (who’s a tittle-tattle?)

or maybe because the culprits weren’t actually Russians,

or maybe because they felt the WH didn’t need to know,

or maybe because the brilliant cyberwarriors are too busy monitoring the real traitors (that would be us)

and so on ad infinitum. Spying is such a fun, endless game. Guaranteed career for life, good pension, easier flying a keyboard than risking life and limb.

Anonymous Coward says:

Playing devil's advocate

So, uh, just why is some “ally” monitoring the White House’s network?

The monitoring might have been at the other end. For instance, the “ally” might have been after a hotdog smuggling ring, and found in their seized servers evidence of data obtained from the White House network, given to them by the real hacker in exchange for a box of really good hotdogs.

RD says:

This needs to be in all-caps, my apologies in advance


I mean, FUCKING seriously. DO NOT ask for blanket surveilence permission if you CAN’T CATCH THE BAD GUYS.

Protip: The American Citizens en masse are NOT the “bad guys.”

Vegemite_sanga (profile) says:

Terrorist watch is working

I can guess what happened, some computer a was trawling through mass surveillance data and flagged the phrase, “this single glorious act will send their country back to the stone age”.

At this point they realised a draft copy of the TPP had been released – clearly the action of criminals since the government would never do that.

David says:


But, it does seem profoundly odd that it was discovered by some other country.

Not at all. We all know the NSA guys just love to be telling the technical “truth” hopping with glee when questioned. Wiretapping all the Whitehouse and Congress traffic would not sit well with some of the “leaders” in there.

So they let their friends technically do that (likely providing the infrastructure for it and physically applying the taps in the course of a cooperation program, only actually calling it “tapping” for some occult combination of things not coming together here) while handing them all the traffic to and from their respective parliaments in return.

Anonymous Coward says:

programs/apps continually updated, that detects, informs and eventually block intrusions……..THATS “CyberSecurity”…….defencesive security that we should ALL have……..so what the the hell have they been doing.

Defensive security, gets no where near enough attention hence inovation……imagine app/program thats designed for cases like these, thas higly compatible with the majority of devices out their, continually updated, created to be easilly implemented by programer, to patch any past, present future vulnrabilities

Thats DEFENSIVE security……….what the hell have they been doing

Oh right, OFFENSIVE security, i.e. the very thing that creates the need for DEFENSIVE security in the first place

Anonymous Coward says:

Funny how the more freedoms americans give up to make them safer, actually makes them less safe or in this case just goes to show just how incompetent those protecting their “freedoms” actually are.

No doubt some new bill will be made to combat this security breech by taking away more rights you guys have that will somehow fix the incompetence of those in charge.

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