NASA Hacked into 13 Times Last Year

NASA has admitted to have been hacked into at least 13 times over the last year. In these major security lapses, hackers have gotten information on various critical projects and employee details putting National Security in jeopardy.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration in a recent report “NASA Cyber security: An Examination of the Agency’s Information Security” revealed the disconcerting information. Close to 47 attempts were made by hackers across the world, of which 13 were successful and were major breaches. The agency highlighted an instance where a group of Chinese hackers got into NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL is key part of NASA’s active spaces activities that include missions to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The hackers had full functionality within the system. They could have modified, copied or deleted sensitive files. They also had capability to add or remove user accounts to gain access to critical JPL systems. They could have uploaded high-end malware applications or hacking tools that could keep track of user credentials and compromise NASA’s other functionalities. They were also equally clever enough to modify system logs to conceal their digital footprint.

In a related incident, an unencrypted NASA notebook computer went missing; the notebook had algorithms pertaining to the control of the space station. In a separate incident, more than 150 employees’ data and credentials were stolen last year.  To sum it all up more than 5,408 incidents of un-authorized access have been reported between 2010 and 2011.

Paul Martin, Office of Inspector General, who prepared the report, noted that “the agency has moved too slowly to encrypt or scramble the data on its laptop computers to protect information from falling into the wrong hands.”

“NASA has made significant progress to better protect the agency’s IT systems and is in the process of implementing the recommendations made by the NASA Inspector General in this area,” says another voice within NASA in reaction to the report

It is important to note that only a paltry $58 million is spent towards cyber security out of the $1.5 billion annual budget. From the investigations made, the reasons for hacking range from individuals testing their abilities to organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit backed by foreign intelligence agencies. Suspects have been nabbed across the world in countries like China, Estonia, Great Britain, Italy, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, and Turkey. However, investigators haven’t been able to make headway or muster up enough evidence to find anyone culpable.

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