Sophisticated hackers infiltrated the computer systems of both Barack Obama and John McCain during the US presidential campaign and stole a "serious amount of files" in what appears to have been an intelligence-gathering operation by Russia or China, it has emerged.
Upon discovering what they thought was a computer virus last summer, the Obama campaign were visited by agents from the FBI and Secret Service and told that their systems had, in fact, been hacked. "You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system," an FBI agent was quoted as saying, by the American Newsweek magazine.
According to the report, the secret service told the Obama campaign that Mr McCain had also been targeted by a sophisticated campaign of hacking. "Obama technical experts later speculated that the hackers were Russian or Chinese," the magazine said, adding that the FBI had assured Mr Obama that the attack had not been carried out by his political
Chinese hackers have penetrated the White House computer network on multiple occasions, and obtained e-mails between government officials, a senior US official told the FT.
The cyber attackers managed to penetrate the White House system for brief periods that allowed them to steal information before US government experts each time patched the system.
Separately, US government cyber investigations have determined that an attack this summer on the Obama and McCain campaign computer networks originated in China. Details of the attack were first reported by Newsweek. The secret service told the Obama and McCain campaigns that their networks had been comprised by foreign hackers.