Emails to and from President Barack Obama were read by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system, The New York Times said Saturday.
“There is no evidence that the president’s email account itself was hacked, White House officials said. Still, the fact that some of Mr. Obama’s communications were among those retrieved by hackers has been one of the most closely held findings of the inquiry,” the paper said.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the report but the White House earlier this month confirmed the breach, saying it took place last year and that it did not affect classified information.
However the incursion was “far more intrusive and worrisome” than publicly acknowledged, the newspaper said, citing senior American officials briefed on the investigation, and saying the hackers were presumed to be linked to — or even working for — Moscow.
It said that although no classified networks had been compromised, officials had acknowledged that the White House’s unclassified system still contains highly sensitive information such as email exchanges with diplomats, exchanges about personnel moves and legislation, presidential schedules and discussion about policy.
Officials did not disclose the number of Obama’s emails that were read by the hackers nor the sensitivity of their content, the New York Times said.
It was not clear how many of Obama’s emails were read, the Times said.
The hackers “are presumed to be linked to the Russian government, if not working for it,” the newspaper said.
“It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” a senior official was quoted as saying.
Most of Obama’s classified briefings are delivered orally or on paper and are usually confined to the Oval Office or the Situation Room, the Times said.
The paper added that Senior White House officials had known for months about the depth of the intrusion.