Nuclear agency computers hacked in US
The hacked file contained information about contract workers throughout the agency's nuclear weapons complex.Updated: Jun 10, 2006 08:22 IST
A computer hacker stole a file containing the names and Social Security numbers of 1,500 people working for the US Energy Department's nuclear weapons agency.
Officials told a congressional hearing on Friday that the department's senior managers were informed only two days ago of last September's incident, which was somewhat similar to recent problems at the Veterans Affairs Department. None of the victims was notified, they said.
The data theft occurred in a computer system at a service centre belonging to the National Nuclear Security Administration in New Mexico. The file contained information about contract workers throughout the agency's nuclear weapons complex, a department spokesman said.
The administrator, Linton Brooks, told a House of Representatives hearing that he learned of the security breach in late September but did not inform Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman about it. It had occurred earlier that month.
Brooks blamed a misunderstanding for the failure to inform either Bodman or Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell about the security breach. Brooks' NNSA is a semiautonomous agency within the department, and he said he assumed DOE's counterintelligence office would have briefed the two senior officials.
"That's hogwash," Rep Joe Barton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told Brooks. "You report directly to the secretary. You meet with him or the deputy every day. ... You had a major breach of your own security, and yet you didn't inform the secretary."
Bodman learned of the theft two days ago, according to his spokesman, Craig Stevens.
First Published: Jun 10, 2006 08:22 IST