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August 19, 2014

Cyber-Terrorism Struck the Nuclear Regulation Commission Three Times in Three Years

An internal investigation conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) revealed that computers within the organization's network had been successfully hacked on three separate occasions in the past three years. What's worse is that the NRC has very little information on who made these attacks, and is only able to confirm that two of the attacks came from foreigners twice and an unidentifiable individual once.

Clearly, these attacks show just how dangerous cyber crime has the potential to become, as these attacks could trigger nuclear meltdowns or even hold the world for ransom with access to a nation's nuclear weapon stockpile.

One of the reasons these attacks are so effective is because of how hard they can be to identify. In one of the recently disclosed incidents, a hacker tried to use a mass phishing attempt by sending emails that would bait personnel with a phony request to verify their logon-credentials. An unwary user would follow the link to punch in their username and password, but this information went to a cloud-based Google (News - Alert) spreadsheet instead of to the site's IT team.

Other hacking attempts have tried to send malware to employee terminals, which could also have devastating effects on the NRC computer network.

Of course the NRC immediately changed user profiles and cleaned out their systems, meaning that defense is possible. The only issue is that there is n way of knowing what information this hacker may have gotten access to. What is clear, however, is that cyber crime is a real threat to far more than just stolen identities. As hackers get more creative, they will find ways to gain access to more secure systems. Because of this, network security should always be a top concern, and security experts will have to stay one step ahead of the hackers at all times.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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