recommended reading

Turkish Group Might Be Behind White House Hacks, Analysts Say

Kostas Tsironis/AP

A Turkish hacker organization might be behind a campaign targeting White House personnel who strategize digital outreach, according to forensics researchers.

Three staffers have had their personal Gmail accounts overtaken by intruders, who have since sent about a dozen other media strategy employees forged emails capable of poaching Gmail or Twitter logins, individuals familiar with the situation say. The messages contain fraudulent links for legitimate news articles that require recipients to enter their Gmail or Twitter credentials for access. The hackers then scoop up the victims' usernames and passwords. 

The actual Web address hiding beneath the genuine-looking news links bears the markings of an apparent Islamic activist dubbed SeRDaR, according to cyber forensics firm CrowdStrike. 

The actor is tied to an organization called 1923Turk-Grup, an allusion to the year before Turkey's secularist founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk dissolved the centuries-old Islamic state.

On Monday, another Islamic group, the pro-regime Syrian Electronic Army, breached Thomson Reuters' Twitter account to blast political cartoons supportive of Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

"Given some of the tactics, techniques and practices of groups like Syrian Electronic Army it would not be out of character for a hacktivist group from Turkey to be targeting" White House communications, under aliases "pointing to potential Islamic ideology driven agenda,"  CrowdStrike Vice President of Intelligence Adam Meyers said. CrowdStrike also employs former FBI top cyber cop Shawn Henry and Dmitri Alperovitch, an investigator who uncovered several allegedly Chinese-sponsored cyberespionage operations.

The researchers traced the malicious link to an IP address -- the unique code for each device on the Internet -- for a webpage that SeRDaR is suspected of defacing in the past. 

But Meyers cautioned that "the hacked page is somewhat circumstantial to the activity you are observing."

One concern is that a cyberassault on White House social media strategists could allow the broadcast of market-moving information through official government channels. 

The Syrian Electronic Army briefly brought down the Dow by hijacking an Associated Press Twitter feed to report explosions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. NPR.org, Sky News Arabia, the Onion, and global smartphone directory TrueCaller also allegedly have fallen victim to the same group's messaging. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.