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Chinese Hackers Take Bad Trip to White House; Nuclear Command System Among Targets

Ioana Jelea

October 01, 2012

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Chinese Hackers Take Bad Trip to White House; Nuclear Command System Among Targets

U.S. intelligence officials have just released information about a Chinese state-sponsored attack against, among other things, the White House Military Office`s nuclear commands system that took place earlier this month, reports freebeacon.com.

“This is the most sensitive office in the U.S. government,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official told freebeacon.com. “A compromise there would cause grave strategic damage to the United States.”

The incident appears linked to Pentagon support for Japan in its conflict with China over property of the Senkaku islands. This hypothesis is the more plausible as Chinese hackers already launched a cyber offensive against Japan, with 300 websites on target.

The unidentified hackers accessed the WHMO`s computer network, endangering the operation of crucial government channels for communication on nuclear devices, presidential activities and travel, as well as the teleconferencing facilities for state and intelligence officials.

“This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,” a national security official said. The official qualified this type of attack as “not infrequent” and stated that “mitigation measures [are] in place.”

“In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place.”

The nature of the data that could have been accessed in a successful breach gives US military officials reasons to blame a Chinese cyberwarfare unit known as 4th Department of General Staff of the People`s Liberation Army, or 4PLA.

A Chinese military paper issued in March this year casts some light on the country`s cyberwar plans.

“In peacetime, the cyber combat elements may remain in a Ëœdormant` state; in wartime, they may be activated to harass and attack the network command, management, communications, and intelligence systems of the other countries` armed forces,” reads Liu Wangxin`s statement in the official newspaper of the Chinese army.

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