A New Wave of Cyber-Attacks Hit Government-Funded Facilities

A new wave of cyber-attacks last week hit two US government-funded research laboratories and a defense contractor. The research laboratories were the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), which is headquartered in Richland, Washington and the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory in Newport News, Virginia. Battelle Corp, the government contractor that manages PNNL was also attacked.

The three facilities became aware of the attacks and have decided to shut down Internet access last Friday. The three facilities have not yet restored access to their external websites. Fortunately, no classified information was hacked.

In a forum on cyber deterrence organized by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Michael Hayden, retired Air Force General said that the veracity of the cyber-attacks and the growing cyber threats are pushing security planners to the limits. He said that the US should be more resilient in addressing cyber-attacks to avoid overreaction.

The key, he said, is to design a response plan that will allow the US to recover relatively quicker from any form of future cyber-attacks.

It should be remembered that prior these recent strings of cyber-attacks, Lockheed Martin, Pentagon’s number 1 supplier, also shut down its network access after a series of cyber assaults. The same thing happened to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a research facility that is manged by UT-Battelle for the US Energy Department.