July 6, 2011 / 9:00 PM / 8 years ago

Government facilities targets of cyber attacks

BOSTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. government-funded research laboratories and a defense contractor were targets of a “highly sophisticated” cyber attack last week, the latest in a string of assaults on U.S. interests.

The attacks were targeted at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington; Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory in Newport News, Virginia and Batelle Corp., a government contractor that manages PNNL.

The three shut down Internet access on Friday, when they became aware of the attacks, according to spokespeople for the organizations. The two laboratories have yet to restore access to their external websites.

“The good news is no classified information has been compromised or is in danger from this attack,” said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller. “At this time, we have not found any indication of ‘exfiltration’ of information from our unclassified networks as well.”

The attacks come in the wake of cyber assaults that shut down network access at Lockheed Martin Corp, the biggest U.S. military contractor, and the U.S. government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in April.

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, a former director of central intelligence and ex-head of the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, said on Wednesday that growing cyber threats were pushing security planners into uncharted territory.

“This is really hard for us to think about,” he told a forum on cyber deterrence hosted by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. “If we don’t act boldly, something really bad is going to happen. Then we’ll over-react.”

Reporting by Jim Finkle and Jim Wolf; Editing by Derek Caney and Richard Chang

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