PNNL Working to Restore Systems after Cyber Attack

PNNL Working to Restore Systems after Cyber Attack »Play Video
RICHLAND -- Most PNNL computer systems are still shut down after a sophisticated cyber-attack last week, although internal email was restored Tuesday afternoon. The systems contain sensitive national security information and other scientific secrets.

At one of the most high-tech labs in the country there's no Internet, and you can't send an email to the outside world.

"We want to be productive while we're here, and that really means getting creative and using some skills we haven't pulled out of our pockets in a while," says Darlene Mahon, a PNNL employee.

The lab easily handles about four million cyber-attacks a day. But hackers mounted a virtual blitzkrieg against the lab last week.

"These are well funded, very persistent individuals looking for intellectual property or national security secrets and so they're very dedicated to trying to attack," says Jerry Johnson the man in charge of the cyber-security effort at PNNL.

A cyber-security team of about 50 people have been working non-stop since the attack. Through the weekend, through the Fourth of July holiday. Some working 36 hour shifts in an effort to keep the system safe.

The attack was stopped and the system was shut down. Workers are now painstakingly checking everything to make sure the invaders left no virtual time bombs.

Officials say it appears no secret info was compromised.

KEPR did find out that this was part of a larger attack that included Battelle's headquarters and another national lab in Virginia. Some of the Hanford network was affected but we're told it was just "collateral damage" where it was connected to PNNL systems.

Employees here likely won't have full access to technology until the end of this week.

"The work we is significant and very important here. So this will cause some short term delays and possible damage to productivity," says PNNL Spokesman Greg Koller.

Though it's said to be too early to give an assessment on the amount of damage. Koller says the good news is many employees were taking this week off for vacation anyway. Meanwhile its one of the busiest times of the year for IT experts here as they work to stay one step ahead of hackers.

Officials say they're getting closer to finding out who the hackers are, but they will not release that information for security reasons.