Hacking of US Navy Computers by Iranian Hackers will Test new NSA Commander Rogers

In 2012, we reported that US NAVY faces 110,000 cyber attacks every hour. Now a report has gone viral that Iran’s penetration into the US Navy’s computer network was far more extensive than previously imagined, according to Wall Street Journal ‎.

The officer who led the response attack may face questions on it from senators considering his nomination as the next head of the NSA. The Navy took four months to clean its unclassified systems of the hackers, said current and former officials.

Lawmakers may throw many questions at the President Obama’s choice for the NSA’s new director, Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, who faces his confirmation hearing, possibly next month.

According some congressional aides, a few lawmakers might be interested in knowing how long it took to purge the system, while there may be others who would want to know the measures taken by the department to prevent such attacks in future.

Earlier in September 2013, The Wall Street Journal first reported the Iranian cyberattack.

The officials then said the intruders were removed but now acknowledge that the attack was far more invasive than originally thought.

  • It was a big deal…It was a significant penetration that showed a weakness in the system,” said a senior official.

According to the Navy statement, the hackers penetrated the Navy Marine Corps Internet, the unclassified network of the Navy department used for hosting websites, storing non-sensitive information besides handling voice, video and data communications. The network had about 800,000 users at 2,500 locations.

 The Navy officials confirmed that there was no evidence that the hackers infiltrated beyond the Navy Marine Corps Internet or accessed the classified documents. Although the hackers compromised communications on the network, no email accounts were hacked or data stolen, said the senior official.

Adm. Rogers declined to comment before a confirmation hearing, as the standard practice.

Iranian officials also declined to comment but only said they were victims of Western cyberattacks in the past, 2010 Stuxnet virus being one of them.

The military response to attack, Operation Rolling Tide spearheaded by Adm. Rogers, included network repairs not just across the Navy but also in other departments of defense and lasted for about four months.

The long time taken to close the gaps exposed by the intrusion raised many questions, but senior Navy officials defended Rogers:

  • It was a big problem, but it was a success, Mike Rogers did a very, very good job handling this,” said the senior defense official.

The recent Iranian attack puzzled the American intelligence officials who had for long underestimated Iran’s cyber offensive capabilities. The earlier 2012 cyber attacks were mostly denial of service attacks.

  • It was a real eye-opener in terms of capabilities of Iran to get into a Defense Department system and stay there for three months,” said a former defense official.

The cost to repair the affected Navy network after the recent attack was beyond $10 million. The officials were now confident that it had rid its system of the hackers.

 

Pushpa Mishra

Pushpa is a Dubai based scientific academic editor who worked for Reuters' Zawya business magazine and at the same time a passionate writer for HackRead. From the very first day she has been a blessing for team Hackread. Thanks to her dedication and enthusiasm.