Information Warfare: Congress Hacked Again

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December 28,2008: Recently, another successful hacker penetration of government networks in the United States was revealed. This time it was members of Congress who found that their office PCs and networks were infested with hidden software that was monitoring PC use and sending files back to the hackers.

In November, 2008,, it was revealed that the White House computer networks were under constant attack, and that hackers have gotten in a few times. No more details were given of these attacks, although the most likely source is believed to be China.

It was also revealed that the networks of both U.S. presidential candidates were hacked during the Fall of 2008, and large quantities of files taken. U.S. government Internet security officials warned the campaign managers, and offered to help clean out the hacker software. Both campaigns brought in their own experts and found that the campaign networks were penetrated mainly because the campaign staffs  had rapidly expanded and many users were not using sufficient defensive software. This made it easier for hackers to get in.

Government officials tend to keep quiet about these attacks, partly out of embarrassment. The Cyber War community is under much pressure by government officials to confirm where these attacks are coming from, and who is responsible.

While China and Russia are often mentioned as the source of these attacks, government Internet security organizations will not give details. That's normal, as you don't want the enemy to know you are tracking his hacking efforts, much less let on how closely you are monitoring these attacks. The U.S. may well have some very precise information on where these attacks are coming from, who is doing it, and how. The attackers get some sense of how good their opponent is by the changes in the defenses. But the U.S. doesn't want the hackers to know if hacker central has been identified. That information can be a valuable weapon when it comes time to counterattack. That has not happened because several requests to Congress, for permission to strike back, have gone unanswered, at least publically.

 


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