NASA Hacked an Incredible 13 Times Last Year, Report Says
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, is a landmark program in the field of space travel. They were the first to organize, plan, and launch a man to the moon and back, and have since performed many successful manned space missions. They have also launched several satellites into space to work as our communications relays and even for defense. You ‘d think then that NASA, which employs some of the most sophisticated hardware and software on the planet, would have a more secure network. However, it has recently come to light that various hackers were able to break into NASA computer systems a total of 13 times. The computer hackers were able to attain “full functional control” of the various systems, which could have easily compromised US national security. NASA admitted these facts to the public themselves.
NASA has an annual IT budget of 1.5 billion dollars. That budget is meant to go towards things like computer security, updating processors, and more computer related work. However, of that massive 1.5 billion dollar budget, NASA only spends about 58 million dollars on computer and internet security. NASA Inspector General Paul Martin confirmed this truth to a Congressional panel focusing on NASA’s security.
When asked to speak in front of the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Martin released the following comment: “Some NASA systems house sensitive information which, if lost or stolen, could result in significant financial loss, adversely affect national security, or significantly impair our nation’s competitive technological advantage.”
He went on to discuss the time when NASA discovered that a group of hackers had managed to gain access to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and had gained “full functional control” of the computers in that department. They discovered that the hackers were working through a Chinese-based IP address.
Once the hackers had gained access, Martin said that they were able to modify, copy, or delete sensitive files, create user accounts for mission-critical JPL systems and upload hacking tools to steal user credentials and compromise other NASA systems. They were then able to conceal their actions by modifying the system’s log to appear as if nothing had changed or that no one had gained access.
“Our review disclosed that the intruders had compromised the accounts of the most privileged JPL users, giving the intruders access to most of JPL’s networks,” he added. In another hacking attack last year, hackers were able to steal in access information for over 150 NASA employees. This gave the hackers total access to the various systems.
In Martin’s statement, he said that NASA has made very slow progress in encrypting their systems, data, login accounts, and other sensitive information that could potentially compromise the safety of the United States.
Notebook computers with no encryption software have also been stolen or lost; these computers have codes for controlling the International Space Station saved onto them, and accessing them is very easy. There is also some very sensitive data on programs like the NASA Constellation and Orion programs, as well as the Social Security numbers of various employees.