NNSA reportedly hacked as part of “extensive espionage operation”

December 18, 2020, 9:30AMNuclear News

In an exclusive story published yesterday, the news website Politico reports that networks of the National Nuclear Security Administration and other federal entities have been hacked “as part of an extensive espionage operation.”

Citing officials familiar with the matter, the story says that network breaches have been identified at the NNSA’s Office of Secure Transportation (which is responsible for the transport of government-owned special nuclear materials), Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Energy’s Richland Field Office, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

According to the story, the hackers are believed to have gained access to the networks “by compromising the software company SolarWinds, which sells IT management products to hundreds of government and private-sector clients.”

What they’re saying: The piece quotes DOE spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes as saying, “At this point, the investigation has found that the malware has been isolated to business networks only and has not impacted the mission-essential national security functions of the department, including the National Nuclear Security Administration. When DOE identified vulnerable software, immediate action was taken to mitigate the risk, and all software identified as being vulnerable to this attack was disconnected from the DOE network.”

On the case: Politico’s report also points to a December 16 joint statement from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which refers to an “ongoing cybersecurity campaign” that “has affected networks within the federal government.” The three organizations have formed a Cyber Unified Coordination Group “to coordinate a whole-of-government response to this significant cyber incident.”

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