If you listen to the media, cyberattacks are scary events that can bring down an entire nation with a few strokes of a keyboard. In reality, some people have their passwords and usernames stolen. It’s really not that bad in most cases. This past weekend, however, something bad might have been narrowly avoided.
The AP is reporting that the White House suffered a cyberattack this weekend. The Obama administration acknowledged the attack, but said that they thwarted it before it became a problem. The official story doesn’t list where the attack came from or what part of the White House’s network was under attack. An anonymous official told the AP that no critical or classified systems were at risk.
Looking beyond the official report, other news sources are saying the attack came from China. The Washington Free Beacon said that the attack could have been in response to the U.S. backing Japan over the contested Senkaku Islands that have led to riots across China.
Things get a bit more terrifying when you learn what exactly China was after. The Free Beacon’s report says that the hackers were trying to get into the White House Military Office system. This is the system the contains the codes for the football – the collection of nuclear launch codes that the president has on him at all times.
For now, we don’t know what happened. We probably won’t know what happened either until something very bad happens. Cybersecurity is on the minds of many lawmakers, but they seem too focused on writing broad legislation that doesn’t actually protect anybody. The cybersecurity officials in Washington should start focusing on protecting their own infrastructure. The effect of stolen credit cards can be repaired, but a stolen launch code or classified intel can not.