President Obama on Friday confirmed that his presidential campaign suffered a cyber intrusion in which hackers gained access to a range of files.
In a speech in which he unveiled a plan for a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy, the president said he understands what it is like to be a victim of a cyberattack because "it has happened to me and the people around me."
Between the months of August and October, Mr. Obama said, hackers accessed files including policy papers and travel plans. Files pertaining to fundraising information were left untouched, he assured his supporters in a joking manner.
"It's no secret my presidential campaign harnessed the Internet" to communicate with a wide swath of supporters, he said. However, the hacking was "a powerful reminder... one of your greatest strengths, our ability to communicate... could also be one of your greatest vulnerabilities."
The campaign worked with federal agents and hired security consultants to address the breach, Mr. Obama said.
Newsweek reported in November that federal agents investigated cyber intrusions conducted by a "foreign entity" on both the Obama and McCain campaigns. FBI and White House officials reportedly told the Obama campaign that the foreign entity in question sought out information about the evolution of the presidential candidates' policy positions, in the event it could prove useful for future negotiations.
President Obama on Friday called the virtual world "a world we depend on every single day." He acknowledged attacks have occurred on individuals, businesses, and government infrastructure.
He said al Qaeda and other organizations have expressed their desire to conduct cyberattacks against the United States -- a capability the president called "a weapon of mass disruption."
By establishing a national cybersecurity coordinator and enacting other elements of his new cyber strategy, the president said the nation's digital infrastructure and networks "will be treated as they should be -- as a strategic national asset."