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U.S. Department of Energy Was Successfully Hacked 159 Times in 4 Years

U.S. Department of Energy Was Successfully Hacked 159 Times in 4 Years

by Samburaj DasSeptember 14, 2015

In yet another instance that shows just how targeted Government agencies are, the U.S. Dept. of Energy has been attacked by hackers over 150 times between 2010 and 2014.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has had its computers breached by attackers nearly 160 times during a 48-month span up to 2014, according to documents obtained by USA Today.

The federal records gathered by the publication show a relentless barrage of cyber attacks as attempts to breach the Department of Energy’s security that safeguards critical information systems. These important and crucial systems contain sensitive data about energy labs, the country’s power grid and significantly, the nuclear weapons stockpile.

Other startling facts as revealed by records obtained by USA Today via the Freedom of Information Act are as follows:

  • DOE computers were targeted a total of 1,131 times via cyber attacks over 2010-14.
  • Of the 1,131 cyberattacks, 159 successfully breached the DOE’s computers and systems.
  • 53 of the 159 successful intrusions were ‘root compromises’ or intrusions where attackers gained administrator-level privileges to the DOE’s computer systems.

“The potential for an adversary to disrupt, shut down (power systems), or worse … is real here,” said Scott White, Professor of Homeland Security and Security Management and Director of the Computing Security and Technology program at Drexel University, speaking to USA Today.

 It’s absolutely real.

Department-of-EnergyIn a prepared statement, Andrew Guminer, spokesman for the DOE said:

“(In) 2013, DOE experienced two significant intrusions that led to the potential loss of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of former and current DOE employees and contractors.”

Additionally, the DEO Office of Science, the lead federal agency striving for fundamental scientific for energy was also at the receiving end of many cyber attacks. The agency, which is also responsible for 10 of the 17 DOE laboratories incurred:

  • 255 attempts of cyber attacks.
  • 90 out of the total attempts were successful breaches.
  • 28 of the 90 intrusions were root compromises.

Computer systems at DOE’s headquarters were also targeted continually, where:

  • A total of 432 attempts of cyber attacks were made.
  • 13 out of the total were successful intrusions.
  • 5 of the 13 breaches were root compromises.

Predictably, computers in the National Nuclear Security Administration whose goal includes the responsibility “for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science” incurred:

  • 113 attempted cyber-attacks in total.
  • 19 were successful breaches, and
  • 6 of the 19 intrusions were root compromises.

DOE officials refused to say if any sensitive data relating to the country’s power grid or the nuclear weapons stockpile was breached or stolen in any of the attacks. The same refusal applied for speculation of any state-sponsored hackers operating for foreign governments.

“DOE does not comment on ongoing investigations or possible attributions of malicious activity,” confirmed spokesman Andrew Gumbiner.

Images from Pixabay and HGenergy.

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  • Jeff Sararas

    That’s every ten days. Busy.