White House Hit With What Appears To Be Sustained Cyberattack

10/28/2014 10:05 pm ET | Updated Oct 29, 2014
  • Ryan Grim Washington Bureau Chief, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- The White House computer network has been hit by what appears to be a sustained cyberattack, administration sources told HuffPost.

The White House -- or the Executive Office of the President (EOP) -- regularly gets hit with hapless cyberattacks from all corners of the web, but the one revealed Tuesday, said people familiar with the situation, has been much more significant in duration and strength, putting the system on the fritz for nearly two weeks, if not longer.

A White House official confirmed on Tuesday that the White House had "identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network." Network outages are not uncommon in the White House, but they typically last no more than a few hours. For the system to be damaged for days on end indicates an attack of significant strength.

"Certainly a variety of actors find our networks attractive targets and seek access to sensitive government information. We are still assessing the activity of concern, and we are not in a position to provide any additional details at this time," the White House official said in a statement.

The network outages have been a defense mechanism, White House staff were told in an internal note obtained by HuffPost. "Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected. The temporary outages and loss of connectivity that users have been experiencing is solely the result of measures we have taken to defend our networks," the email reads.

White House press pool reports sent by email Tuesday night were "significantly delayed," according to pool reporter Steven T. Dennis of CQ Roll Call. "Some people are getting pool reports significantly before other people," Dennis reported. He said later that the pool report delays "appear to now be resolved."

The full White House internal email lays out the situation to staff. (NSC is National Security Council.)


As you are aware, technical issues have resulted in limited access to some EOP network services. We understand that many users depend on these capabilities, and we apologize for what we know is an inconvenience. Some of these issues have been resolved, and we have also been working with EOP component heads and NSC Senior Directors to put in place a number of interim measures to help employees work on high priority requests as we continue to resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible.

Some of these issues have been resolved, and we have also been working with EOP component heads and NSC Senior Directors to put in place a number of interim measures to help employees work on high priority requests as we continue to resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible. With those measures in place, we want to share additional information so you are aware of what is causing these technical issues.

The Executive Office of the President receives alerts concerning numerous possible cyber threats on a daily basis. We take each of these threats very seriously, and we regularly evaluate our security measures and take action to defend our networks and mitigate those threats.

In the course of assessing recent threats, we identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network. Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity. Our actions are ongoing, and some have resulted in temporary outages and loss of connectivity for our users.

Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected. The temporary outages and loss of connectivity that users have been experiencing is solely the result of measures we have taken to defend our networks.

We appreciate your patience as we continue to work with you to provide you the capabilities you need as soon as possible. If you are contacted on this issue by anyone outside of EOP, to include members of the press, please refer them to the White House press office.

This article has been updated to include press pool report delays.

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