Copyright – The Telegraph Media Group – August 6 2015 – By Nick Allen
Russia is suspected of launching a cyber-attack against a Pentagon email network
LOS ANGELES — Russian is the leading suspect following a sophisticated cyber-attack on an email network at the Pentagon.
The attack in July affected 4,000 military and civilian personnel working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the network was shut down for two weeks.
The existence of the attack, but not who was behind it, was first disclosed at the end of last month.
It was a so-called spear-phishing attack in which people are tricked into opening bogus emails which then infect the network.
US officials did not say whether the attack has been linked to individuals or the Russian government but said it was “sophisticated.”
One official said: “It was a spear-phishing attack traced to that country (Russia),” Another told NBC News: “It was clearly the work of a state actor.”
The hackers used encrypted social media accounts to launch the attack. They also used an automated system that quickly collected huge amounts of data.
No classified information was obtained but the Pentagon decided to shut the email system down.
Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Valerie Henderson said: “We continue to identify and mitigate cyber-security risks across our networks.
“With those goals in mind we have taken the Joint Staff network down and continue to investigate. Our top priority is to restore services as quickly as possible.
“As a matter of policy and for operational security reasons we do not comment on the details of cyber incidents or attacks against our networks.”
The attack came after US officials confirmed 21 million government employees, contractors and others had personal information compromised in two other security breaches.
The source of the those hacking attacks has not been publicly identified but they were widely believed to be part of a Chinese espionage program. In late April US Defence Secretary Ash Carter blamed Russian hackers for a cyber-attack on an unclassified US military network.
According to cyber-security companies there has been a large increase in attacks linked to the Russian government since sanctions were imposed last year over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.