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Ex-NRC Employee Allegedly Attempted Cyberattack On DOE To Get Nuke Info For Foreign Gov’ts

A former Department of Energy employee has been charged with attempting a cyberattack on dozens of DOE computers in January, allegedly seeking information on nuclear weaponry to give to foreign governments.

The indictment for Charles Harvey Eccleston, also formerly of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was announced by the Department of Justice last Friday.

“The goal of the attack was to cause damage to the computer network of the Department of Energy through a computer virus that Eccleston believed was being delivered to particular department employees through emails, and to extract sensitive, nuclear weapons-related government information that Eccleston believed would be collected by a foreign country,” according to the DOJ press release.

Eccleston came to the FBI’s attention after offering classified information to a foreign embassy, claiming it was obtained from the U.S. government. According to Eccelston’s statements to the undercover FBI employees in 2013, he tried to sell information to China and Venezuela but wasn’t given access to officials.

Posing as representatives of foreign states, FBI employees promised to pay Eccleston and “offered to design and send spear-phishing e-mails that could be used to damage the computer systems used by his former employer and to extract sensitive information from them,” reports the DOJ.

The emails were sent to more than 80 DOE computers but none were affected, according to acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr. of the District of Columbia.

Eccleston, 62, was terminated from the NRC in 2010 and moved to the Philippines in 2011. He was arrested by Philippine authorities on March 27 and deported to America. Eccleston appeared before the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia last Friday and was remanded until a hearing set for May 20.

Charged with four felonies, including unauthorized access of computers and wire fraud, Eccleston faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

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