In the aftermath of the Office of Personnel Management hacking situation, NBC reports the Pentagon has been the target of what is described as a “sophisticated cyberattack” by Russia.
U.S. officials tell NBC News that Russia launched a “sophisticated cyberattack” against the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system, which has been shut down and taken offline for nearly two weeks. According to the officials, the “sophisticated cyber intrusion” occurred sometime around July 25 and affected some 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Sources tell NBC News that it appears the cyberattack relied on some kind of automated system that rapidly gathered massive amounts of data and within a minute distributed all the information to thousands of accounts on the Internet. The officials also report the suspected Russian hackers coordinated the sophisticated cyberassault via encrypted accounts on social media.
The officials say its not clear whether the attack was sanctioned by the Russian government or conducted by individuals. But, given the scope of the attack, “It was clearly the work of a state actor,” the officials say.
They stressed that no classified information was seized or compromised and that only unclassified accounts and emails were hacked.
The attack was reportedly noticed quickly and the entire system shut down during the Pentagon’s investigation.
This is just the latest in a series of news stories about cyberattacks against American interest. Previously, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was concerned about increasing interest in cyberattacks by terrorist groups.
FBI Director James Comey said in July that planning appeared to be in the very early stages, but that it represented what he called a “small but potentially growing problem.”
Cyberattacks don’t require the support of a powerful nation or well-financed group like Al Queda, unlike many other types of attacks. As a result, it becomes easier for smaller powers to find themselves on more even footing with the United States.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that a new cybersecurity bill is delayed after Congress failed to act on it prior to the August recess.