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White House confirms cyber attack


The hackers apparently obtained remote access to the control system of a public water treatment plant.


Odd Andersen

White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged an attempted cyber attack on the White House on Tuesday, but said that no classified networks were threatened and the attempt was thwarted.

Carney said the White House was able to identify the attack, isolate it and prevent its spread, stating that there was no evidence that any data had been removed, according to Al Jazeera.

"There are distinctions between those networks that contain classified information and those that don't, and the attack was against an unclassified network," he said. Carney said the attack was "spear-phishing" and said such attacks are not infrequent.

Reuters described spear-phishing as an attempted infiltration using fake emails from a trusted sender to trick the target into revealing information.

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The news was first reported on Sunday by a conservative website, according to Politico. The Washington Free Beacon said that Chinese hackers had attacked a computer system in the White House Military Office.

Politico wrote: "Sunday’s story was the latest Free Beacon report to cast President Barack Obama as weak on national security or defense — the Chinese hack attempt 'highlights a failure of the Obama administration to press China on its persistent cyber attacks,' it said."

Reuters noted that China has the world's largest internet user base, numbering 485 million users. It is also believed to be behind a number of hacking attempts aimed at the American government and companies.

The Obama administration is preparing to issue an executive order to increase protection for federal agencies against cyber attacks.

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