The U.S. Department of Energy admitted it was hacked Friday, saying that the action compromised information on several hundred employees.
The agency sent out an email to its employees, according to The New York Times, saying that those affected will be notified and that “no classified data was compromised.” It further advised employees to encrypt any files that may contain personal information, and the DoE promised that it is working on securing its systems better. This includes “increased monitoring” and new security tools.
The attacks occurred in mid-January, centered on systems located in Washington, D.C.
While this hack affected only personally identifiable information of employees and contractors within this agency, it is a scary, if not obvious, target. The Department of Energy oversees the U.S.’s nuclear research, with data that is likely a desirable trophy for cyber-criminals. The U.S. has been aggressive in the past when it comes to hacking nuclear facilities, such as the Stuxnet virus that hit Iran’s nuclear power research facility in 2010.
The attackers, however, remain unidentified, and they may not be connected to state-sponsored attacks from Iran or China, another country that has been aggressive with its hacking prowess. This past week marks a large number of newly announced attacks include Chinese attacks on The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Anonymous also claimed to have hacked into the Department of Justice and Twitter revealed a hack on 250,000 of its accounts.