The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (opens in new tab), a major energy, research and high-performance computing centre in Knoxville, US, has reported a concerted and elaborate plot to get into their network.
The ORNL houses the second-fastest supercomputer in the world, an open-research, 101.7-teraflop Cray XT3/XT4 known as "Jaguar,". It has plans to build another supercomputer.
Around 12,000 potential victims have been identified, all of whom were visitors to the lab between 1990 and 2004.
The culprits managed to get access by sending Trojan laden e-mails to ORNL employees, out of the 1100 emails that were sent, 11 employees opened the infected attachment but did apparently not report the infection.
Although the identity of the hackers is not known, Arstechnica speculates (opens in new tab) that the nature of the attack as well as the target can only point to one possibility: a foreign government.
According to a statement (opens in new tab) released on the ORNL website, "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."
Parts of the US Government infrastructure like military networks and telecommunications systems are under constant attacks from rogue elements and fortunately, until now, only a small fraction have succeeded in breaching the security barriers.