Pentagon: Cyber attack caused disruption, threatened crucial systems, targeted tens of thousands of users

The U.S. military has played a direct role in stopping an international cybercrime threat that targeted tens of thousands of email accounts, a high-ranking American military official said on Thursday. U.S. Cyber Command Commander…

Pentagon: Cyber attack caused disruption, threatened crucial systems, targeted tens of thousands of users

The U.S. military has played a direct role in stopping an international cybercrime threat that targeted tens of thousands of email accounts, a high-ranking American military official said on Thursday.

U.S. Cyber Command Commander Adm. Michael Rogers officially acknowledged that the Defense Department, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had acted on information about an attack, though officials refused to confirm the exact nature of the cyberattack and offered no information about who was responsible.

“In recent weeks, we’ve seen repeated and prolific attempts to infect our email systems, cause instability on our networks and to disrupt our vital systems,” Rogers said during a press conference at Cyber Command’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. “These attacks are meant to cause real and measurable harm to critical infrastructure systems. We take these attacks very seriously.”

He continued: “In one instance, we identified an attempt by a group calling itself “FatCat,” to infiltrate our networks. In response, we took action to limit the group’s access to classified data in the civilian world. We’ve been successful in stopping this and are continuing to monitor the situation.”

Rogers did not describe the scope of the damage, the number of users affected, or the reason for the attacks. Previously, Cyber Command officials had dismissed questions about the damage as “speculation.”

While he declined to comment on when the attack occurred, Rogers made clear that the National Security Agency and Cyber Command were working together to find the culprits. The agencies share knowledge about cyber threats in real time.

“There are unique challenges related to working with the intelligence community, particularly when we are dealing with the state actors who may provide intelligence for motivation or want-to. We are determined, our agencies are determined to uncover the truth and we’ll do everything we can to get to the bottom of this. We will bring the full power of the U.S. government’s capabilities to bear on this,” Rogers said.

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