The below story about U.S. infrastructure being vulnerable to cyber attacks from adversarial governments, demonstrates how U.S. national security interests are at risk. This is not a left or right issue. All sides should support measures designed to protect and arm all U.S. government computer systems with the capability to identify and withstand all foreign attempts to breach our security walls.
These excerpts were found on the 1/10/16 “Homeland Security Today” website article, “Recent Cyber attacks Expose Vulnerability Of US Critical Infrastructure,” by Jason Ralls:
While standing at the Bowman Avenue Dam on December 23, US Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) stated, “Simply put, our country’s critical infrastructure is still far too vulnerable to hackers and we must do more — and fast — to ward off this metastasizing threat. Iran’s recently disclosed 2013 hack right here in New York on this dam shows that cities and sensitive industrial systems across New York and the nation are too vulnerable.”
“The Senator further added, “Whether it’s a dam in Rye Brook, or our power grids, our financial institutions, our water systems, or our online networks, these parts of our infrastructure are at risk and are under assault like never before, and we need to do more about it. That is why I am urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fully investigate the Rye Brook hack and all the others like it that target our critical infrastructure. We must know where we are vulnerable and ramp up our security efforts.”
As per the http://www.feinstein.senate.gov website, the California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is known for being a strong advocate on behalf of U.S. National Security has become concerned. In her capacity, as Vice-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Feinstein has taken the step to write about the 2016 DNC computer material breach by Russia to our U.S. President Barack Obama.
Here is the body of the letter that Senator Feinstein penned:
July 27, 2016
Dear Mr. President:
The recent hack into the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the subsequent release via WikiLeaks of a cache of 20,000 internal e-mails, demonstrated yet again the vulnerability of our institutions to cyber intrusion and exploitation. In its timing, content, and manner of release, the email dissemination was clearly intended to undermine the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Secretary Hillary Clinton, and disrupt the Democratic Party’s convention in Philadelphia.
In June, the DNC publicly acknowledged that the party’s network had been hacked, and released a report prepared by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike that found convincing evidence that the infiltration had been carried out by two separate teams working for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Russian military intelligence (GRU). According to CrowdStrike, the FSB group focused on exfiltrating DNC emails, while the GRU hackers went after opposition research on Republican nominee Donald Trump. If true, and if Russia made the material available to WikiLeaks for release, then the episode would represent an unprecedented attempt to meddle in American domestic politics—one that would demand a response by the United States.
Russia’s cyber capabilities are well known. Its apparent willingness to use those capabilities to embarrass American officials and to seek to influence our foreign policy is not new—as illustrated by the 2014 release, widely blamed on Russia, of an intercepted phone call at the height of the Ukraine crisis, which included comments by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Russian meddling also has long been a fact of European political life, going back decades to Soviet times and continuing at a robust level to this day. Hacking, financial backing, and a burgeoning relationship between Russia and right-wing parties elsewhere in Europe are exacerbating political divisions across the continent—to Europe’s detriment and Moscow’s advantage.
Earlier this week, the FBI announced that it had launched an investigation into the DNC hack, a step which we support. Given the grave nature of this breach and the fact that it may ultimately be found to be a state-sponsored attempt to manipulate our presidential election, we believe a heightened measure of transparency is warranted.”
Specifically, we ask that the Administration consider declassifying and releasing, subject to redactions to protect sources and methods, any Intelligence Community assessments regarding the incident, including any that might illuminate potential Russian motivations for what would be an unprecedented interference in a U.S. Presidential race, and why President Putin could potentially feel compelled to authorize such an operation, given the high likelihood of eventual attribution.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence/Adam B. Schiff
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
POLITICO.COM’s investigative reporter, Daniel Strauss reported on this story on 6/14/16. The following are some excerpts from his article, “RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT HACKERS BROKE INTO DNC SERVERS, STOLE TRUMP OPPO:”(opposition research)
“CrowdStrike designated two groups that gained access to the DNC’s info. One, codenamed Cozy Bear, broke into the DNC last summer (2015) and had been monitoring the committee’s emails and chats. The other group CrowdStrike dubbed Fancy Bear. It hacked into the DNC in April (2016) aiming to get opposition research files. The Fancy Bear breach is what tipped off DNC officials. Fancy Bear was able to gain access to all of the DNC’s research staff computers.”
“In a blog post, CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said there was no coordination between the groups.”
“At DNC, COZY BEAR intrusion has been identified going back to summer of 2015, while FANCY BEAR separately breached the network in April 2016. We observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials.”
“Alperovitch wrote. “Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. Russian ambassador from 2012 to 2014, called the hack “meddling in our personal affairs. ”I am sure they intended to do this without being caught,” he told POLITICO.
“He added: “Russia has tremendous capabilities, both the Russian government and their proxies and people somewhat affiliated with the government. We always underestimate their capabilities.”
“There is as yet no evidence the two groups were coordinating. One group may be connected to Russia’s GRU intelligence service, and the other might be the Federal Security Service, Russia’s influential security arm, CrowdStrike told the Post.”
“Last August (2015), Defense Department officials blamed Moscow for orchestrating a successful cyberattack on the Pentagon Joint Staff’s unclassified email system. The incident came just months after Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged Russian hackers had broken into the DOD’s unclassified networks.”
“In late 2014, suspected Moscow-backed hackers also cracked into the State Department and White House networks, accessing sensitive materials such as President Barack Obama’s personal schedule. It took months for the agencies to fully eradicate the digital invaders and repair their systems.”
“DNC was “very responsive.” “They immediately recognized and had a high degree of urgency that this (possible hacking) was important by calling us in,” Henry (CrowdStrike) said. “The key piece is moving towards remediation. How are we able to quickly kind of stop the flow of intelligence that’s leaving that network and move the attackers off the network and provide the organization, allow them to build a network that is free from this type of tools that the Russians had put on to the network.”
“Henry, a former executive assistant director at the FBI (and president of CrowdStrike), said, we deployed certain pieces of technology that we use to try to get some visibility into the extent, the depth and breadth of this particular breach. In the course of this, working very closely with the I.T. staff of the DNC, we were able to identify with a very high degree of confidence a group that we have attributed back to the Russian government targeting that DNC network.”
See below articles about what is being done to address U.S. government computer security vulnerabilities.
Final A-130 revisions focus on cybersecurity, privacy – Federal Times http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/it/…/07/…a130…/87607286/Federal Times/Jul 27, 2016 – After more than 15 years of advancement passed it by, the Office of Management and Budget released an update to Circular A-130, the …
FACT SHEET: Cybersecurity National Action Plan | whitehouse.gov https://www.whitehouse.gov/…/fact-sheet-cybersecurity-national-action-plan…Feb 9, 2016 – Criminals, terrorists, and countries who wish to do us harm have all realized that … But if fundamental cybersecurity and identity issues are not …
U.S. GAO – Key Issues: Cybersecurity – US Government Accountability … http://www.gao.gov/…issues/cybersecurity/issue_summar…Government Accountability Office Other challenges that need to be addressed include … Federal Facility Cybersecurity: DHS and GSA Should Address Cyber Risk to Building and Access Control …
The $19B Solution To The U.S. Government’s Cybersecurity Issue …http://www.forbes.com/…/the-19b-solution-to-the-u-s-governments-cybersecurity–iss…Feb 12, 2016 – How will $19 billion be spent on the new cybersecurity program? This question was originally answered on Quora by Ed Felten.