Nuclear Research Facility Breached by Hackers

( – The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is one of the US Department of Energy’s 17 labs operating at the government agency’s complex. The facility focuses on innovation involving emerging nuclear energy systems, developing radioisotope power sources for NASA, and defending the nation’s power grid using more than 6,000 researchers and support staff members. A recent report indicates that a group of hackers breached an INL database.

On November 29, the INL issued a statement providing information and resources for current and past employees regarding a recent data breach. The notice explained that the lab first became aware of the digital intrusion on November 20.

The INL explained that hackers mounted the cybersecurity breach against systems operated by Oracle Cloud Human Capital Management, a federally approved cloud-based software applications vendor. Fortunately, Oracle’s operations resided outside INL facilities, and the labs’ operation systems weren’t compromised.

However, the hackers accessed and stole data from Oracle’s system that contained personal information related to a few workers from the Idaho Cleanup Project, a US Department of Energy-led initiative to remove spent nuclear fuel and “legacy wastes” created during WWII-era conventional weapons testing programs.

Likewise, the cybercriminals also obtained data related to present and past employees of Battelle Energy Alliance, the government contractor that manages operations at the INF lab.

Recent news reports indicate that a group of hackers called Sieged Security took credit for the breach using online public forums. The criminal gang has a self-professed affinity for animals and mimicked cats in some of those posts.

Sieged Security claimed it “successfully gained access” to the INL and obtained data from “thousands” of its users, employees, and other Americans. They said that information included those individuals’ names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and home addresses.

The INL is cooperating with a multi-agency investigation involving officials with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the FBI, and the Department of Energy. The facility is also coordinating with other national laboratories.

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