US Energy Department’s systems breached 159 times in four years

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has had its computer systems successfully breached by cyber attackers 159 times in four years, USA Today reports.

The US DOE is responsible, among other things, of the nation’s nuclear weapons program, energy conservation, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production. It also sponsors much (energy-related and not) research, most of which is conducted through its system of National Laboratories.

The publication has submitted a FOIA request fo the Department, and has received a document that, admittedly, does not provide much concrete information about the attacks, as that information has been redacted.

What can be gleaned from it is that, between October 4, 2010 and October 3, 2014, the Department of Energy has been targeted 1,131 times. Of that total, attackers successfully gained user access 106, and root access 53 times.

The remaining 972 recorded incidents include successful and unsuccessful DOS attacks, web defacements, unauthorized use, and malicious code.

It’s unknown whether the attackers that gained root access on the systems did so on critical ones or not.

90 of the successful breaches happened on systems of the Department’s Office of Science (SC).

The DOE didn’t share whether any sensitive data regarding US’ nuclear weapons – the National Nuclear Security Administration was successfully breached 19 times – or the nation’s power grid had been compromised.

They have also refused to comment on who might be behind the attacks.

The good news is that that computer systems controlling the US power grid are not connected to those of the DOE.

They Department’s spokesman Andrew Gumbiner said that they share attack-relevant information with all the labs, plants and sites the Department oversees, as well as the rest of the departments of the US federal government.

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