U.S. intelligence officials have just released information about a Chinese state-sponsored attack against, among other things, the White House Military Officeâ€™s nuclear commands system that took place earlier this month, reports freebeacon.com.
â€œThis is the most sensitive office in the U.S. government,â€ a former senior U.S. intelligence official told freebeacon.com. â€œA compromise there would cause grave strategic damage to the United States.â€
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 WHMOâ€™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.
â€œThis was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,â€ a national security official said. The official qualified this type of attack as â€œnot infrequentâ€ and stated that â€œmitigation measures [are] in place.â€
Â â€œIn this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place.â€
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 Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army, or 4PLA.
A Chinese military paper issued in March this year casts some light on the countryâ€™s cyberwar plans.
â€œIn peacetime, the cyber combat elements may remain in a â€˜dormantâ€™ state; in wartime, they may be activated to harass and attack the network command, management, communications, and intelligence systems of the other countriesâ€™ armed forces,â€ reads Liu Wangxinâ€™s statementÂ in the official newspaper of the Chinese army.