Cyber attack targets include White House and the Pentagon

A powerful internet attack that overwhelmed computers at US and South Korean government agencies for days was even broader than initially realised: targets included the White House, the Pentagon and the New York Stock Exchange and other official websites in the most widespread cyber offensive of recent years.

Other targets of the attack included the National Security Agency, Homeland Security Department, State Department, the Nasdaq stock market and The Washington Post newspaper, according to an early analysis of the malicious software used in the attacks.



The cyber assault on the White House site had "absolutely no effect on the White House's day-to-day operations," said spokesman Nick Shapiro.



Preventative measures kept the WhiteHouse.gov site "stable and available to the general public," Shapiro said, but internet visitors from Asia may have experienced problems.



South Korean intelligence officials believe the attacks were carried out by North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces, but many experts in cyber warfare said it was simply too early to know where the offensive originated.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service, its principal spy agency, told South Korean lawmakers Wednesday it believes that North Korea or North Korean sympathisers in the South were behind the attacks, according to an aide to one of the lawmakers briefed on the information.



The aide spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the information. The intelligence service said it could not immediately confirm the report, but it said it was cooperating with American authorities.



The attacks will be difficult to trace, said Professor Peter Sommer, an expert on cyberterrorism at the London School of Economics. "Even if you are right about the fact of being attacked, initial diagnoses are often wrong," he said Wednesday.



Many of the US government targets appeared to have blunted the sustained computer assaults successfully. Others, such as the US Treasury Department, were knocked offline at times.



Two government officials acknowledged that Treasury's site was brought down, and said the agency had been working with its internet service provider to resolve the problem. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.



As of last night, Shapiro said, "all federal websites were back up and running." Shapiro said that the Department of Homeland Security "is aware of the DDOS attacks on federal and private sector public-facing websites."



Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the US Secret Service, said that the cyber attacks slowed down access to the agency's website, which operates on the same computer server as Treasury's site.



Secret Service's site remained in operation despite the crippling effects of the cyber offensive, Donovan said.



"Our site was never knocked down, but it was slowed down at points," Donovan said. He added that Secret Service's "operational side" was not affected.



The Associated Press obtained the target list from security experts analysing the attacks. It was not immediately clear who might have been responsible or what their motives were.



The cyber attack did not appear, at least at the outset, to target internal or classified files or systems, but instead aimed at agencies' public websites, creating a nuisance both for officials and the web consumers who use them.



The attacks appeared remarkably successful in limiting public access to victim websites, but internal email systems are typically unaffected in such attacks.



Ben Rushlo, director of internet technologies at Keynote Systems, said problems with the Transportation Department site began on Saturday and continued until Monday, while the Federal Trade Commission site was down Sunday and Monday.



Keynote Systems is a mobile and website monitoring company based in San Mateo, California. The company publishes data detailing outages on websites, including 40 government sites it watches.



According to Rushlo, the Transportation website was "100 per cent down" for two days, so that no internet users could get through to it.



The FTC site, meanwhile, started to come back online late Sunday, but even on Tuesday internet users still were unable to get to the site 70 per cent of the time.



Dale Meyerrose, former chief information officer for the US intelligence community, said at least one of the federal agency websites became saturated with as many as a million hits per second per attack - amounting to 4 billion internet hits at once.



He would not identify the agency, but said the website generally is capable of handling a level of about 25,000 users at one time.



Meyerrose, who is now vice president at Harris, said federal officials are divided on the whether a botnet was involved, but said the characteristics of the attack suggest the involvement of between 30,000 to 60,000 computers that participated in the assault.



While he said officials were investigating the incident, it appeared one attack occurred on July 4 that some agencies were able to contain, and then a second round came on July 7.



Meyerrose said that since the attackers would have used surrogate computers, it is still too early to tell where it originated.



James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says the fact that both the White House and defence Department were attacked but did not go down points to the need for coordinated government network defences.



"It says that they were ready and the other guys weren't ready," he said. "We are disorganised. In the event of an attack some places aren't going to be able to defend themselves."



Attacks on federal computer networks are common, ranging from nuisance hacking to more serious assaults, sometimes blamed on China. US security officials also worry about cyber attacks from al-Qaeda or other groups.



Web sites of major South Korean government agencies, including the presidential Blue House and the defence Ministry, and some banking sites were paralysed Tuesday.



An initial investigation found that many personal computers were infected with a virus ordering them to visit major official websites in South Korea and the US at the same time, Korea Information Security Agency official Shin Hwa-su said.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor