The White House confirmed but sought to downplay a report by a conservative website on Sunday that it had been the victim of a cyberattack, volunteering to POLITICO that no harm had been done.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Chinese hackers had attacked a computer system in the White House Military Office.
A White House official speaking on background late Sunday confirmed there was an attempted hack but said that it affected an unclassified network, was “isolated” and that there was no evidence that any data had been stolen.
The attempted hack used “spear phishing,” in which an attacker sends an email to a specific target that uses familiar phrases in hopes that the recipient will follow links or download attachments that unleash the hacker’s malware.
None of the White House’s secure, classified computer systems were affected, said the official, who reached out to POLITICO after the Free Beacon story appeared — without having been asked for comment. Nor had there been any attempted breach of a classified system, according to the official.
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 cyberattacks,” it said.
Previously, the website reported that a Russian nuclear attack submarine patrolled undetected in waters near the U.S., which it said underscored Obama’s lack of support for the military.
However, unlike the White House cyberattack story, DOD and Navy officials flatly denied the Russian sub report.