Military Claims Possible Russian Cyber Attack from Thumb Drive


Brian Knowlton
New York Times
August 25, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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WASHINGTON — A top Pentagon official has confirmed a previously classified incident that he describes as “the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever,” a 2008 episode in which a foreign intelligence agent used a flash drive to infect computers, including those used by the Central Command in overseeing combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Plugging the cigarette-lighter-sized flash drive into an American military laptop at a base in the Middle East amounted to “a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control,” according to William J. Lynn 3d, deputy secretary of defense, writing in the latest issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.

“It was a network administrator’s worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary,” Mr. Lynn wrote.

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The incident was first reported in November 2008 by the Danger Room blog of Wired magazine, and then in greater detail by The Los Angeles Times, which said that the matter was sufficiently grave that President George W. Bush was briefed on it. The newspaper mentioned suspicions of Russian involvement.

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