One of the biggest nuclear laboratories in the US has been hacked by self-proclaimed “gay furry hackers” who have jokingly demanded its employees focus on research into “real-life cat-girls”.
On 20 November, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), which employs about 6,100 people, was hacked by SiegedSec, who posted a sample of data and threatened to release more unless the lab caved into its demands.
The hacktivist group offered to keep secret the huge amounts of employee data they claim to hold, which includes social security numbers, birthdays and phone numbers, if the lab agreed to the bizarre deal.
“If they research creating IRL cat-girls, we will take down this post,” the group promised.
IRL cat-girls refer to the creation of a real cat-human female hybrid, of which memes are frequently posted, but it’s not something the laboratory, or any other, for that matter, focus on.
The furry community bond over their love of anthropomorphic animal characters. Furry isn’t a sexuality or gender, but there is an overlap between the LGBTQ+ community and the fandom.
‘Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow’
On the same day as the breach, the lab acknowledged it has suffered a cyber attack. Spokeswoman Lori McNamara told The Register: “Idaho National Laboratory determined that it was the target of a cyber-security data breach in a federally approved vendor system outside the lab that supports INL cloud human resources services.”
McNamara said the INL took “immediate action to protect employee data”.
SiegedSec, which has also claimed to have breached NATO’s IT security twice this year, boasted about the hack of INL’s data in public posts that began “meow meow meow meow meow meow meow”.
The group added to its announcement on Telegram that it has “so much crunchy” data, before claiming it had messaged users via the Oracle software the lab has, “showing our access” before making the proposition about cat-girls.
In response to questions about why they chose to hack INL, they commented on social media: “We are cats, intricacies such as ‘why’ do not concern us,” according to PC Gamer.
Following the breach, the INL said it has been in touch with “federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency to investigate the extent of data impacted in this incident”.
The INL, which is run by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, focuses on innovations in nuclear research, renewable energy systems and security solution, such as the discovery of carbon-free options.