Security Experts:

Department of Energy Hacked; PII Stolen

Malicious hackers have broken into computer systems of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to hijack sensitive personally information (PII) for about 14,000 past and current employees.

In a brief statement, the DOE confirmed the breach, which occurred at the end of July. "[It] resulted in the unauthorized disclosure of federal employee Personally Identifiable Information (PII)," the department said.

Department of Energy Logo

This is the second major hack at the DOE this year, coming on the heels of a February 2013 incident that penetrated 14 computer servers and 20 workstations at the DOE headquarters.

In the most recent hack, the DOE, which manages the country's nuclear energy programs, insists that no classified data was targeted or compromised.

A December 2012 report from the office of inspector general slammed the Department of Energy for lacking a department-wide cyber-security incident management system, five years after auditors flagged problems in how the department manages cyber-security incidents.

The statement said the DOE's Cybersecurity office, the Office of Health, Safety and Security and the Inspector General’s office are working with other federal law enforcement to obtain information concerning the nature of the incident.

"Once the full nature and extent of this incident is known, the Department will implement a full remediation plan," the DOE said.

The breach has led to the theft of PII for about 14,000 past and current DOE employees.

The DOE said individual notifications to affected current employees will begin immediately and will be completed by August 30.

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Ryan is the host of the SecurityWeek podcast series "Security Conversations". He is the head of Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis team in the USA and has extensive experience in computer security user education, specializing in operating system and third-party application vulnerabilities, zero-day attacks, social engineering and social networking threats. Prior to joining Kaspersky Lab, he monitored security and hacker attack trends for over 10 years, writing for eWEEK magazine and the ZDNet Zero Day blog. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanaraine.