Celebrity Hacking Claims Probed as Obama Voices Concern

President Barack Obama expressed concern about computer hacking as U.S. law enforcement agencies began probing the posting of purported financial information of celebrities, government officials and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“We should not be surprised that if you’ve got hackers who want to dig in and devote a lot of resources, that they can access people’s private information,” Obama said in excerpts of an interview with ABC News released yesterday. While underscoring his dismay, he wouldn’t confirm details of the probe, including whether the hacking reached the White House.

The apparent data breach comes amid rising concern that the nation’s computer networks are vulnerable to hackers bent on stealing personal information and corporate secrets or interrupting vital industries such as energy, banking or transportation. An attack yesterday blocked JP Morgan (JPM) Chase & Co.’s Chase.com website, said Michael Fusco, a spokesman.

Obama is scheduled to discuss cyber security with corporate executives today in the White House Situation Room. The meeting will cover recent steps taken to deal with hacking risks, including an order Obama issued Feb. 12 directing the government to share more cyber-threat data with companies and develop voluntary security standards for critical infrastructure, such as power grids.

The nation’s top intelligence official told U.S. lawmakers yesterday that the risk of hackers causing significant disruption to essential services ranks as the intelligence community’s top concern, ahead of terrorism, in an annual worldwide threat assessment.