The FBI and Department of Homeland Security Breached


February 10, 2016 | DevOps | joanna mastrocola


After the OPM breach, you would assume the government immediately took measures to make sure there wasn’t a second hack. It looks like whatever efforts they made didn’t work, because they were breached yet again. The names, titles, phone numbers, email addresses, and job descriptions of thousands of FBI employees were leaked. But wait, it gets worse. Similar information was also breached for 9,000 homeland security workers just the day before. Luckily, the government has impeccable timing, as the breach hasn’t gotten much press, largely overshadowed by President Obama’s announcement of his Cybersecurity National Action Plan.  

Here’s everything you need to know about the breach:

A Justice Department staffer’s email account was compromised by the hackers, the group releasing the information on Superbowl Sunday, and Monday, as they promised to do on social media. 

According to US News, the hackers appear to have significant political motivations. The group tweeted that they would continue to release the information they took until there is a free Palestine, urging the U.S. to end diplomatic relations with Israel. They also tweeted 

The same hackers released the information of 9000 DHS employees and 20,000 FBI workers. The message on top of the data dump reads “Long Live Palestine, Long Live Gaza”. The Department of Justice has stated that, as of now, it doesn’t look like any sensitive identifiable information was breached. The hackers also claim that they have access to hundreds of gigabytes of DOJ data, which they are waiting to release. 

The pro-Palestine hacker group taking credit for the attack is called “DotGovs”. The group has been very active on twitter, typically using #FreePalestine in their tweets.  Following the breach they tweeted, “When will the US government realize we won’t stop until they cut relations with Israel.”

Government officials have commented on the breach and are working to make it seem unimportant, comparing the leaked information to what you could find in an old phone book. However, it should be noted that while some of the information was out of date, other information was extremely accurate. 

 Additional thoughts… 

It seems that the most perplexing, and worrisome, aspect of this hack is that the government is acting like it isn’t a very big deal. You would think that following the OPM breach and the announcement of the President’s new cybersecurity plan, they would use this cyberattack as a catalyst to move the plan forward, instead of painting it as a non issue. The media, mostly concentrating on the announced cybersecurity plan, seems to have forgotten about this breach, as reporting has been lax.

The scary part of this breach isn’t necessarily the content that was released, but rather, the response and the fact that it occurred in the first place. The OPM breach was devastating, exposing 25.7 million records. Following this attack, putting basic information security fundamentals in place should have been top priority.

It is very dangerous for DOJ officials to portray this breach as insignificant. There is still a large amount of unknown data that the hackers allegedly possess, information poor information security practices allowed them to access. The government must take these events more seriously. Hackers will continue to work to breach the government and soon, as we have seen in the  past, more than just names and email addresses will be compromised.

This breach should be used as a conversation starter to put more secure practices in place.As the presidential election continues to heat up, and international struggles move forward, we are more vulnerable than ever to hackers trying to access sensitive data for political gain. Hopefully this newly released cybersecurity plan will spark more conversations around security, help ensure that information is more closely protected, and lessen the likelihood of cyberattacks in the future.





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