The Commerce Department sent us a statement about the cyber attack we reported on today, which since January has wreaked havoc on the computer system of a small department in the agency.
The Economic Development Administration, which gives out grants to distressed communities, unplugged its network once the virus was discovered. Employees are now back online with computers and BlackBerrys, under a new operating system built from scratch. While business has slowed, Commerce officials say EDA has awarded $36.2 million in grants during the disruption. The virus’s source has not been identified.
Read the agency’s response after the jump.
Here is the statement from Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman:
“Currently all EDA staff have new computer workstations with access to Internet and email. The agency’s website provides information on Federal Funding Opportunities, announcements, and agency-wide contact information. Since the system’s disruption, EDA has announced 72 grants totaling $32.6 million to help communities create jobs and strengthen the economies of America’s regions. The Department of Commerce IT Security team, US-CERT, [in the Department of Homeland Security] and other experts have been working to conduct analysis and isolate the origin of the virus. This kind of analysis takes time. In the meantime, EDA has continued to serve its clients, meet its deadlines and make progress on its important job creating initiatives. Throughout this process, EDA has communicated with its grantees regularly via phone and fax and have been able to maintain an open line of communication with stakeholders and partners. EDA’s priority is to make sure all grantee fiscal needs are met in a timely manner with minimal impact.”
Commerce officials also said they are working aggressively to address longstanding warnings from the agency’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office that its computer networks are vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Officials said they have beefed up training for IT experts, improved system monitoring and are better tracking their efforts to measure progress.