US officials say Russian hackers attacked US military and hijacked the unclassified email system used by Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2015, according to CBS News.
Some 3,500 employees working for former chairman Martin Dempsey were affected by the hack carried out over just an hour. It took about two weeks to fix the damages and replace the system.
Now retired, Dempsey confirmed for CBS in an exclusive interview that he had been informed by NSA Admiral Mike Rogers regarding the attack, saying the hackers stole his passwords and electronic signatures. Because the attackers moved so fast, the only solution was to take down the network.
Hackers sent out 30,000 emails to a West Coast university, out of which four were forwarded to Joint Staff members. Once one was opened, the system was breached and infected with malware. Officials say the goal was to damage software and hardware, and not cyber espionage, as no intelligence value was involved.
“The motive for the attack was believed to be Russian anger at economic sanctions orchestrated by the Obama administration in response to Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and interference in Ukraine,” writes CBS.
Accusations that Russia is behind an organized attack against the US government, military or political organization are not isolated, as US intelligence has already implicated Russian president Vladimir Putin in direct involvement in the cyberattack on the DNC and the election system to eliminate Hilary Clinton from the election campaign.
An investigation is ongoing. When asked to comment, spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the accusations “ludicrous nonsense.”