The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees the National Weather Service, announced in October that it was conducting "unscheduled maintenance" on its network. Turns out the reason was likely a security breach by hackers in China, reports the Washington Post. NOAA hasn't specified whether any classified data was accessed, or in fact what (if any) information was obtained or if malware was installed, but cybersecurity teams blocked off data key to shipping, aviation, disaster planning, etc., resulting in an outage that ultimately skewed the accuracy of the National Weather Service's forecasts.
The September attack hit a Web server that connects to many NOAA computers, someone close to the incident says. The security breach comes on the heels of a July report finding weaknesses in NOAA's security that cyberattackers could exploit, reports NBC News. In fact, the weaknesses "could provide an attacker with access to ... critical assets," the report found. What's more, officials say NOAA did not notify the proper authorities of the attack, though NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen has acknowledged the hacks and said "incident response began immediately." (Meanwhile, Russians are being fingered for a hack of unclassified networks in the White House.)