By Julian E. Barnes
Los Angeles Times
November 28, 2008
Reporting from Washington -- Senior military leaders took the
exceptional step of briefing President Bush this week on a severe and
widespread electronic attack on Defense Department computers that may
have originated in Russia -- an incursion that posed unusual concern
among commanders and raised potential implications for national
Defense officials would not describe the extent of damage inflicted on
military networks. But they said that the attack struck hard at networks
within U.S. Central Command, the headquarters that oversees U.S.
involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and affected computers in combat
zones. The attack also penetrated at least one highly protected
Military computers are regularly beset by outside hackers, computer
viruses and worms. But defense officials said the most recent attack
involved an intrusive piece of malicious software, or "malware,"
apparently designed specifically to target military networks.
"This one was significant; this one got our attention," said one defense
official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing internal
Although officials are withholding many details, the attack underscores
the increasing danger and potential significance of computer warfare,
which defense experts say could one day be used by combatants to
undermine even a militarily superior adversary.
Bush was briefed on the threat by Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen also briefed Defense Secretary
Robert M. Gates.
Military electronics experts have not pinpointed the source or motive of
the attack and could not say whether the destructive program was created
by an individual hacker or whether the Russian government may have had
some involvement. Defense experts may never be able to answer such
questions, officials said.
Help InfoSecNews.org with a donation!