Emails sent and received by President Barack Obama were accessed by Russian hackers last year during a security breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system, according to a new report from the New York Times.
The revelation comes months after the administration acknowledged a hack but initially did not disclose what entity had been behind it.
The hackers apparently did not access servers that control the flow of emails that go to and from the president’s BlackBerry, or a system called Jwics (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System), which contains top-secret and “secret compartmentalized information” shared among government officials cleared to access it, the report says.
Many senior White House officials have two computers in their offices, with one being devoted to highly secure and classified network and another that allows communication with the outside world for unclassified communications. The unclassified system is said to regularly contain material that are still considered highly sensitive, such as schedules, email with ambassadors and diplomats, information on personnel moves, and discussions on legislation and policy.
According to the report, officials did not reveal how many of the president’s emails had been retrieved by the hackers or if they contained sensitive material, but said that his email account itself had not been hacked, and that classified briefings—given orally, on paper or through a secured iPad system—were also not accessed.
The Times also reports that discussions have been ongoing inside the White House about how to protect Obama’s electronic presence and whether or not it can be breached. This recent news has apparently been known for months, but was only recently revealed.
It also comes months after a major hack of emails sent and received by Sony Pictures’ executives—including some offensive missives written about President Obama—was later blamed on North Korea by the U.S. government.