The Energy Department, headquartered in Washington, has been hit by a major cyber-attack, which resulted in compromised sensitive personal information of several hundred employees. Today, the Washington Free Beacon reported that FBI agents are investigating the attacks on 14 computer servers and 20 workstations, which happened two weeks ago.
"It's a continuing story of negligence," former Energy Department Security Official Ed McCallum said in a statement. He further explained that the department continuously has security problems despite controlling the most sophisticated military and intelligence technology the country owns.
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To date, no classified information has been compromised, but there are reports that Chinese hackers could have been seeking access to this data, as the department is a known target of Beijing. Chinese hackers are also believed to have been behind hackings of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post earlier this month.
According to McCallum, China and Iran have been after Energy Department secrets, so several agencies have warned The Energy Department about sophisticated cyber activities. This is not surprising, considering that among things the department includes is the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages nuclear power and weapons."China continues to develop its capabilities in the cyber arena," the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a November 2012 report. "U.S. industry and a range of government and military targets face repeated exploitation attempts by Chinese hackers as do international organizations and nongovernmental groups including Chinese dissident groups, activists, religious organizations, rights groups, and media institutions."
China's Ministry of National Defense has denied accusations that they were behind the cyber attacks.
Bill Gibbons, deputy press secretary for the Energy Department, told MailOnline, “The organization is letting the letter of the incident speak for itself.” The letter was sent out to DOE workers last Friday afternoon and reveals that the full extent of the cyber-hacking was unknown.
Officials are now working to optimize security, and are developing ways to prevent a similar cyber attack in the future.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo