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Iran's hacking of U.S. Navy more extensive than previously thought



by Joseph Earnest  February 19, 2014


Newscast Media MOSCOW—Iran's alleged infiltration of a U.S. Navy computer network was far more extensive than previously thought, according to officials, and the officer who led the response will likely face questions about it from senators weighing his nomination as the next head of the embattled National Security Agency, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.


It took the Navy about four months to finally purge the hackers from its biggest unclassified computer network, according to current and former officials. 

Some lawmakers are concerned about how long it took. When Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, President Barack Obama's choice for the new NSA director, faces his confirmation hearing, some senators are expected to ask whether there is a long-term plan to address security gaps exposed by the attack, congressional aides said. The hearing hasn't been scheduled yet, but could be next month. 

The Wall Street Journal in September first reported the discovery of the alleged Iranian cyberattack. Officials at the time said the intruders had been removed. However, officials now acknowledge that the attack was more invasive, getting into what one called the "bloodstream" of the Navy and Marine Corps system and managing to stay there until November. 

The hackers targeted the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the unclassified network used by the Department of the Navy to host websites, store nonsensitive information and handle voice, video and data communications. The network has 800,000 users at 2,500 locations, according to the Navy. 

Network repairs continue to close the many security gaps revealed by the intrusion, not just on Navy computers but across the Department of Defense, the officials said. 

"It was a real big deal," said the senior U.S. official. "It was a significant penetration that showed a weakness in the system." 

Adm. Rogers declined to comment, citing a standard practice of not speaking publicly before a confirmation hearing. 

Iranian officials didn't respond to requests to comment, but in the past have said they were victims of cyberattacks by Western powers, including the Stuxnet virus uncovered in 2010. 

Details remain classified and murky, but the penetration allowed the Iranians to conduct surveillance on the Navy's and Marine Corps' unclassified networks, said the senior U.S. official. While that official said the intruders were able to compromise communications on the network, a senior defense official said no email accounts were hacked and no data was stolen. 

The military response, an effort known as Operation Rolling Tide, was overseen by Adm. Rogers as the Navy's chief of cybersecurity. But Adm. Rogers, who has also been nominated as chief of the military’s Cyber Command, will likely defer most answers at his confirmation hearing to a classified hearing. 

The intrusion into the Navy's system was the most recent in a series of Iranian cyberoffensives that have taken U.S. military and intelligence officials by surprise. 

The senior defense official said the cost to repair the Navy network after the attack was approximately $10 million. But other officials said the ultimate price tag is likely to be higher. 

The intruders were able to enter the network through a security gap in one of the Navy’s many public-facing websites, and investigators have discovered that poor internal network security allowed them to migrate deep inside that network, according to current and former officials. 

Officials said the vulnerabilities that allowed the Iranians to get into the network were closed by early October, but it took several more weeks to eliminate hidden spyware lurking throughout the system.    Add Comments>>


 Source: Tehran Times















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