Oak Ridge visitor db compromised

While the Oak Ridge National Lab may be known for high tech research like analytical chemistry, neutron science, and providing technology and expertise to support national and homeland security needs, they also might become known for a recent breach of security at their own premises. Granted, the only data they are reporting as having been compromised is their visitors database. Seriously.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently experienced a sophisticated cyber attack that appears to be part of a coordinated attempt to gain access to computer networks at numerous laboratories and other institutions across the country. A hacker illegally gained access to ORNL computers by sending staff e-mails that appeared to be official legitimate communications. When the employees opened the attachment or accessed an embedded link, the hacker planted a program on the employees’ computers that enabled the hacker to copy and retrieve information. The original e-mail and first potential corruption occurred on October 29, 2007. We have reason to believe that data was stolen from a database used for visitors to the Laboratory.”

Targeted attacks like this one are more common than they were a couple of years ago. Be wary of incoming email attachments and hyperlinks.

UPDATE (12.13.2007): Speaking of data breaches and network intrusion, Bruce Schneier has a related post on his blog today about a newly released study. The UC Berkeley Samuelson Law, Technology, & Public Policy Clinic recently completed and released a study on “Security Breach Notification Laws: Views from Chief Security Officers“. It evaluates the profound effects on practices within U.S. companies resulting from the implementation of security breach notification state laws. Great read.

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