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Ransomware attack hits federal IT contractor


Digital Management LLC (DMI), a Maryland-based IT professional services contractor that has done business with NASA and a number of other federal agencies, appears to have been hit with a ransomware attack.

According to ZDNet, which first broke the story, a ransomware group known as the DopplePaymer gang claims to have breached DMI’s network and leaked a range of files related to their contract work with NASA — including HR documents, project plans and other sensitive personal information.

In response to questions, NASA spokesperson Sean Potter told FCW the agency was following up on the matter with legal authorities and said it hasn’t done any business with DMI since at least last year.

“NASA is aware of the report and coordinated appropriately with law enforcement and NASA’s procurement office,” Potter wrote. “As of April 2019, the company identified in the report is no longer performing any contractual services for NASA.”

A spokesperson for the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has oversight over NASA, told FCW the committee is looking into the matter.

A search of federal procurement records could not find any active contracts with NASA, but DMI was awarded a $177 million bid in 2012 to provide IT support services NASA’s headquarters. That contract expired in 2018 and the recompete was awarded to Venesco & Saitech Joint Venture LLC.

DMI also has a robust contracting presence with a number of other federal agencies. According to figures from USASpending.gov, federal agencies obligated $118.2 million in contract spend or other direct funding to the company in fiscal year 2019, and $49 million for the current fiscal year through the end of May. The data also indicates DMI’s three largest customers are the Departments of State, Health and Human Services and Defense.

The company’s largest active contract appears to be with the State Department, which awarded an eight-year, $336.7 million pact to DMI in 2012 for help desk and desktop support services as part of the agency’s Vanguard strategy to consolidate and streamline IT acquisitions. The recompete of that contract is in source selection and DMI’s award is slated to expire Aug. 31.

A number of questions remain about the scope of the breach, such as how much of DMI’s IT infrastructure has been encrypted, how old the leaked data is and how much money the group is demanding in ransom. It’s also not clear whether data and systems related to work with other federal agencies were affected by the incident. FCW called and left messages for several DMI branches seeking comment that have not been returned and has reached out to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for more information.

Ransomware has become a growing focus for federal policymakers in recent years, even as most successful attacks tend to hit private businesses or state and local governments. In February, CISA Director Chris Krebs said his agency has begun proactively engaging with federal agencies, state and local governments, critical infrastructure and industry to prepare them for what to do if their data is encrypted and held ransom by criminals or state-aligned hacking groups. That announcement came the same month CISA warned the public that ransomware actors had hit a natural gas compression facility, first compromising that facility’s IT network before pivoting to its Operational Technology environment and encrypting data on both networks.

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a senior staff writer at FCW, covering governmentwide IT policy, cybersecurity and a range of other federal technology issues.

Prior to joining FCW, Johnson was a freelance technology journalist. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, GoodCall News, Foreign Policy Journal, Washington Technology, Elevation DC, Connection Newspapers and The Maryland Gazette.

Johnson has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Hofstra University and a Master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University. He can be contacted at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @derekdoestech.

Click here for previous articles by Johnson.


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