Commerce agency’s computers may be victim of cyberattack

Posted Feb. 02, 2012, at 9:28 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A virus has infected the computer network of a job-development agency in the Commerce Department, forcing it to block employees from the Internet for 10 days.

The attack, discovered two weeks ago, targeted computers at the Economic Development Administration, which is responsible for making business-development grants to distressed communities to help them create jobs.

“Out of an abundance of caution, EDA isolated its network systems by removing all network connectivity,” Commerce spokesman Brad Carroll said in a statement Thursday. A temporary, bare-bones website is providing contact information for the small agency and data on federal funding opportunities.

Commerce officials said they have brought in a team of outside experts to help the agency restore the networks. The agency still does not know whether any data has been stolen and why the 215-person agency was targeted.

Employees were advised how to protect their personal information, officials said. Computer security experts pointed to a cyberattack as the most likely cause.