Census Bureau computer servers target of January 2020 cyber attack

U.S. Census Bureau computer servers were targeted during a cyber attack last year, but the hackers’ attempts to retain access to the system were unsuccessful, according to watchdog report released Wednesday.  

The cyber attack occurred in January 2020 and did not involve the 2020 census, The Associated Press reported

According to the Office of Inspector General, the Census Bureau did not take steps to limit their online system’s vulnerability prior to the attack and did not discover what happened in a timely fashion, the AP noted.

The bureau’s firewalls prohibited the hackers from maintaining access to the system, but they were still able to make changes, like creating user accounts, while they had access, the watchdog report said. A probe also found the agency did not keep proper system logs, which hindered the investigation into the hack, according to the report.

Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin emphasized in a statement to AP that none of the information related to the 2020 census was altered during the cyber attack. 

“Furthermore, no systems or data maintained and managed by the Census Bureau on behalf of the public were compromised, manipulated or lost,” Jarmin wrote.

The Census Bureau is the latest government agency to experience a notable cyber attack since the Pentagon and State Department agencies were hacked as part of an espionage attack in December.

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