Hackers thought to be working for the Russian government breached the unclassified White House computer networks in recent weeks, sources said, resulting in temporary disruptions to some services while cybersecurity teams worked to contain the intrusion.
White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said that the intruders did not damage any of the systems and that, to date, there is no evidence the classified network was hacked.
“In the course of assessing recent threats, we identified activity of concern on the unclassified Executive Office of the President network,” said one White House official. “We took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity. . . . Unfortunately, some of that resulted in the disruption of regular services to users. But people were on it and are dealing with it.”
White House officials said that such an intrusion was not unexpected. “On a regular basis, there are bad actors out there who are attempting to achieve intrusions into our system,” said a second White House official. “This is a constant battle for the government and our sensitive government computer systems, so it’s always a concern for us that individuals are trying to compromise systems and get access to our networks.”
In the past, U.S. officials and private reports have pointed to varying threats from state-sponsored hackers.Russia has recently been identified as the source of a skilled hacking campaign with targets including NATO and U.S. defense contractors. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have been particularly high since Russia intervened in Ukraine, annexing Crimea and supporting separatists in the country’s eastern provinces.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department indicted five Chinese military officers, alleging they hacked U.S. companies’ computers to steal trade secrets.