Russian hackers who “owned” a State Department computer system used that as a base to hack into sensitive White House data — but Hillary’s emails were safe on her private server.
One advantage of Hillary Clinton having a private email server is when hackers penetrated the government computer system, they probably couldn’t find any of her emails there, according to a CNN report. The hackers, however, used the State Department’s computers to leapfrog to the White House, breaching a sensitive but unclassified system, CNN found.
While the White House has said the breach only affected an unclassified system, that description belies the seriousness of the intrusion. The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president’s schedule. While such information is not classified, it is still highly sensitive and prized by foreign intelligence agencies, U.S. officials say.
National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh told CNN that “any such activity is something we take very seriously,” without confirming the Russian hack.
These hackers knew what they were doing.
They may have used a method called “spear phishing,” where an innocuous-looking email is sent from a compromised account to someone inside the White House. When the unsuspecting user opens the email attachment, the computer becomes infected and begins infecting others while harvesting data for the hackers.
Director of National Security James Clapper said in a January speech at an FBI cyberconference, “So many times, the Chinese and others get access to our systems just by pretending to be someone else and then asking for access, and someone gives it to them.”
The hackers may have “owned” the State Department computer system for months, according to a CNN source, and it is unclear if the system has been completely cleared of their presence.
Twitter users appreciated the irony of the situation.
Russia hacked the White House, but I’m sure they weren’t reading Hillary’s stuff.
— Just Karl (@justkarl) April 7, 2015
Good thing Hillary’s e-mails and Clinton Foundation shakedowns were totally secure. https://t.co/BqWD0WDvEC
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) April 7, 2015
Russians hacked the effing White House but we’re supposed to believe a server in Chappaqua was safe?
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) April 7, 2015
The president’s schedule was hacked, no big deal.
@thehill could have told them….”on golf course”
— janet l (@winojanet) April 7, 2015
Perhaps they found this.