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Iran breached the U.S. Navy’s unclassified computer network sometime during the past few weeks, according to a news report Friday.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the intrusion by Iranian agents or proxies breached the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet, the world’s largest intranet network and one used on hundreds of thousands of unclassified computers across the force. The cyber-trespassers did not steal any secrets but their presence prompted alarms at the Pentagon about the prowess of the Iranian hackers.
The Defense Department declined to confirm the report of a breach, saying only that DoD networks see “daily attempts” by hackers and that these defenses are updated constantly to parry them.
“As a matter of policy and for reasons of operations security, we do not comment on the details of our operations to counter cyber threats or any allegations made in recent media reports,” said DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, in a statement. “We have full confidence in the integrity of the department's networks and systems upon which we conduct critical operations. This recent reporting does not change that assessment.”
Anonymous officials told the WSJ that the security breach came through an unsophisticated attack and revealed weaknesses in the DoD network, which have since been patched, but that the email accounts of top officials had not been broken into.
Wide swathes of the Navy’s websites have been down or intermittent for the past week.
NMCI has been run and owned by a defense contractor for the past decade, but in June the Navy announced it would be purchasing the hardware to exercise better control over the sprawling system, which has an estimated 800,000 users.