A surge of "sophisticated cyber attacks" coming from Russia has been occurring since July 25, affecting 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, shutting down their email account.
Investigators believe that these are the same attackers that breached the White House and State Department in the last year.
This recent hacking was extremely stealthy in its maneuvering, with massive amounts of data stolen and sent out onto the internet within minutes. The cyber attacks occurred by some form of automated system, and there is also speculation that the Russians used social media in the hacking.
It is unknown whether or not this was an individual act or an act of the Russian government.
Regardless, no classified information was stolen and only unclassified email accounts were hacked.
Comparing the sophistication of these attacks to World War I, Michael Adams, a computer security expert, explains why these attacks are so threatening:
“The sophistication of this attack far surpasses anything we have seen to date from any state actors,” said Michael Adams, a computer security expert who served more than two decades in the U.S. Special Operations Command. The Daily Beast shared the technical details of the malware with Adams, who said it employed tools that make the intruder extraordinarily difficult to detect. “To use a military analogy, the level of sophistication of this attack is like comparing a World War I propeller-driven fighter plane to a stealth bomber coming in under the radar, completely destroying its target, and leaving before the enemy even realizes they have been attacked,” Adams said.
A warning from the FBI was made on Friday stating that hackers have both government and private sector targets:
“U.S. government agencies and private sector companies” via a vulnerability in Adobe Flash. That vulnerability was publicly disclosed earlier this month when the Italian company Hacking Team, which collects and sells information about flaws in software, was itself the victim of a massive penetration that exposed the company’s inner workings and its business dealings with the U.S. government as well as a host of despotic regimes around the world.
The Pentagon is taking aggressive action to investigate the breaches, and the emails should be back up within the next week.
Could this “sophisticated hacking” be the start of the next Cold War?