Obama aide: White House classified computer system secure

The South Portico of the White House in Washington on Friday, May 9, 2014. A bevy of solar panels blanketing the roof of the White House is getting its day in the sun. Technicians have finished installing the panels at the nation’s most famous address. The milestone completes a project that President Barack Obama hopes will send a clear signal that renewable energy is both feasible and environmentally shrewd.
(Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top aide to President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the White House’s classified computer systems are secure while acknowledging vulnerabilities in its unclassified system.

Obama adviser Ben Rhodes made the remarks in response to a CNN report that Russian hackers got access to sensitive White House information such as the president’s private schedule. The White House acknowledged in October that it had detected suspicious activity on its unclassified network while assessing possible cyberthreats.

Rhodes would not confirm CNN’s report that sensitive information was accessed or comment on where the threat originated. However, he said, “There’s always vulnerability.” Rhodes said that’s why the White House operates a separate, secure system for classified data. He said the White House takes regular actions to prevent intrusions on its unclassified network, “but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system.”

“We’ve been increasingly focused and concerned about the cyber threat.  And, frankly, that doesn’t just include governments.  There are private hackers — individuals — who may want to steal — not just from the U.S. government, but from U.S. businesses, who could threaten critical U.S. infrastructure.  That’s why we’ve put in place new measures to increase cybersecurity protections in the government, new ways — through an executive order that the president signed — for us to cooperate with the private sector, to share information about cyber threats, but we’re also working with Congress now, importantly, to support legislation that could authorize and facilitate greater cooperation between the U.S. government and the private sector to defend against any cyber intrusions and threats,” said Rhodes.

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