The Pentagon took down the Joint Staff unclassified email system after Russian hackers attacked the emails of 4,000 military and civilian personnel. The email has been offline for the past 11 days.
US officials called the hack the “‘most sophisticated’ cyberbreach in U.S. military history.” In fact, the level of sophistication is so high the officials did not rule out is a “state entity” took part in the hack.
They also told The Daily Beast they are “creating mock hacking scenarios” before the personnel can access the system. The hackers used a “spear phishing attack” to obtain personal information on numerous users.
The attack occurred on July 25, only 16 days after Marine General Joe Dunford, a nominee to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services that Russia is the greatest threat to American national security. Dunford placed Russia above China, North Korea, and the Islamic State because of its “rapidly expanding military.”
“My assessment today, senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security,” he declared.
Relations between Russia and the West soured immensely after Moscow invaded Ukraine in March 2014, annexed Crimea, and issued threats against other former Soviet republics. The European Union and America passed numerous sanctions against Russian companies and oligarchs while NATO added more security to Eastern Europe nations who fear they might be Russia’s next target.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner fired back that Secretary of State John Kerry does not agree.
“The secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly,” retorted Toner. “You know, these are major powers with whom we engage and cooperate on a number of issues, despite any disagreements we may have with them. Certainly we have disagreements with Russia and its activities within the region, but we don’t view it as an existential threat.”
Kerry has also made similar claims, despite working close with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the past 16 months. Kerry denied many times that Russian soldiers are stationed in east Ukraine until February, even though he constantly faced a mountain of evidence. He added more pain to American allies when he admitted Russian propaganda worked on him.
“The question asked earlier about… how they present things and the lies about their presence in Ukraine and the training, I mean, you know, it’s stunning but it has an impact in places where it isn’t countered,” he said. “Propaganda works.”