OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 7, 2007 -- Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) revealed on Thursday that a "sophisticated cyber attack" over the past few weeks may have allowed hackers to steal personal information about visitors to the lab over a 14-year period.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the lab said that the attack appeared to be part of a coordinated attempt to gain access to computer networks at numerous laboratories and other institutions across the country through e-mails send to lab employees. The hacker was able to gain access to ORNL computers by sending what appeared to be official communications to staffers. When the employees opened the attachment or accessed an embedded link, a program was planted on the computers that let the hacker copy and retrieve information.
The first e-mail was received at the lab Oct 29, according to the statement. While no classified information was lost, the lab discovered that information was stolen from a database used for lab visitors. Approximately 3000 guest researchers visit the lab each year.
"If you visited ORNL between the years 1990 and 2004, your name and other personal information such as your social security number or date of birth may have been part of the stolen information. While there is no evidence that the stolen information has been used, the laboratory deeply regrets the inconvenience caused by this event," the lab said in the statement.
ORNL recommends that those who think their data might have been compromised place a fraud alert on their credit file with one of the three major credit bureaus.
"We continue to put in place new and more sophisticated security systems in an attempt to stop thieves who are equally determined to break into the cyber network," the lab said.
For more information, visit: www.ornl.gov
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