Risk
4/21/2011
02:13 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Phishing Attack Hits Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The government lab expects to restore Internet access and external email service next week after losing nearly 1 gigabyte of unclassified data.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is investigating a sophisticated phishing attack that forced it to shut down email and Internet access last week.

As of Thursday, external email and Internet service was still not back online at the lab, though employees were once again allowed use of their smartphones, Barbara Penland, a lab spokeswoman, said in an interview. She said the lab expects to restore Internet service and access to external email sometime next week.

The lab--which houses some of the world's most powerful supercomputers and stores classified government data--was hit with a phishing attack on April 7 that was designed specifically to remove information from the network.

"We ended up with an excess of 570 of those emails coming in to different people and we had some folks who clicked on the email," she said. "One or two of them managed to get through into the system."

The lab's IT team tracked and observed the virus for about a week before deciding that shutting down access to the Internet and external email last Friday was the best way to stop it, Penland said.

"This one cleaned up behind itself and it stayed hidden to a large degree and actually wasn't very active until just before we shut the door," she said, adding that it was a virus security researchers are familiar with.

Less than a gigabyte of data was removed from the lab's business and email networks as a result of the attack, which Penland stressed did not touch any of the Lab's classified networks. Those are not connected to the public Internet, "for obvious reasons," she said.

A "tiger team" of external security researchers and members of the lab's internal IT team continue to investigate the virus and clean any devices or PCs that were affected by it, Penland added.

The ORNL is run by the University of Texas' Battelle campus for the Department of Energy and is home to three supercomputers operated by federal agencies. In addition to one the Department of Energy oversees, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation also run supercomputers there.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7407
Published: 2014-10-22
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the MRBS module for Drupal allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of unspecified victims via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3675
Published: 2014-10-22
Shim allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (out-of-bounds read) via a crafted DHCPv6 packet.

CVE-2014-3676
Published: 2014-10-22
Heap-based buffer overflow in Shim allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted IPv6 address, related to the "tftp:// DHCPv6 boot option."

CVE-2014-3677
Published: 2014-10-22
Unspecified vulnerability in Shim might allow attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted MOK list, which triggers memory corruption.

CVE-2014-4448
Published: 2014-10-22
House Arrest in Apple iOS before 8.1 relies on the hardware UID for its encryption key, which makes it easier for physically proximate attackers to obtain sensitive information from a Documents directory by obtaining this UID.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.