Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

'Sophisticated Cyberattack' Hits Pacific Northwest National Lab

Energy Department research facility's website down; employees still unable to access email

Pacific Northwest National Labs, a research and development facility operated under contract to the Department of Energy, was attacked during the long holiday weekend and is still struggling to restore IT services.

"Early last Friday, PNNL, and other research organizations became aware we were being targeted by a highly sophisticated cyberattack," a spokesman said. "As a precaution, we immediately shut down most internal network services, including email, SharePoint, the wireless network, voice mail, and access to the Internet, and blocked those trying to contact the Lab by email or connect to the Laboratory’s websites."

Dozens of PNNL staff worked on the problem all weekend, the spokesman said. "When staff returned to work Tuesday morning and booted up their desktops and laptops, they were able to log on to the internal network. However, they did not have access to email [internal or external], SharePoint, or wireless services. Internal email services and some intranet services were restored Monday afternoon. External email was restored Wednesday morning.

The research facility's website was still down at the time of this writing. "Additional services will be restored as the week goes along," the spokesman said. "Full access will only be restored once we are able to thoroughly diagnose what occurred and once we have added a security patch that will repel further attacks of this kind."

The spokesman did not say what the nature of the "sophisticated attack" was. Some observers speculated that the exploit was a phishing attack similar to those launched against the DoE's Oak Ridge laboratory and other entities recently, but a source with knowledge of the PNNL situation said that the attack definitely was not instigated through a phishing attack.

The PNNL spokesman said the research facility does not believe any classified information has been compromised or is in danger of attack. The PNNL staff has "not found any indication of 'exfiltration' of information from our unclassified networks" either, the spokesman said.

PNNL successfully repels more than 4 million attacks on its external network defenses each day, according to the spokesman. "The vast majority of these attacks are simple to detect and defend," he said. "This attack is much more sophisticated."'

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
A Realistic Threat Model for the Masses
Lysa Myers, Security Researcher, ESET,  10/9/2019
USB Drive Security Still Lags
Dark Reading Staff 10/9/2019
Virginia a Hot Spot For Cybersecurity Jobs
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  10/9/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-17612
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-15
An issue was discovered in 74CMS v5.2.8. There is a SQL Injection generated by the _list method in the Common/Controller/BackendController.class.php file via the index.php?m=Admin&c=Ad&a=category sort parameter.
CVE-2019-17613
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-15
qibosoft 7 allows remote code execution because do/jf.php makes eval calls. The attacker can use the Point Introduction Management feature to supply PHP code to be evaluated. Alternatively, the attacker can access admin/index.php?lfj=jfadmin&action=addjf via CSRF, as demonstrated by a payload in...
CVE-2019-17395
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-15
In the Rapid Gator application 0.7.1 for Android, the username and password are stored in the log during authentication, and may be available to attackers via logcat.
CVE-2019-17602
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-15
An issue was discovered in Zoho ManageEngine OpManager before 12.4 build 124089. The OPMDeviceDetailsServlet servlet is prone to SQL injection. Depending on the configuration, this vulnerability could be exploited unauthenticated or authenticated.
CVE-2019-17394
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-15
In the Seesaw Parent and Family application 6.2.5 for Android, the username and password are stored in the log during authentication, and may be available to attackers via logcat.