Two Years, 5,408 Hacks at NASA

Friday, March 2, 2012 @ 03:03 PM gHale

Over the past two years, NASA recorded 5,408 computer security incidents.

Yes, NASA has a high profile to the world, but that also goes to show no one organization is immune to any kind of cyber attack.

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“These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” said Paul K. Martin, Inspector General at NASA.

The intrusions damaged thousands of computing devices, the total estimated cost to NASA at over $7 million.

The Inspector General said the organization is far behind other agencies when it comes to protecting the laptops utilized by personnel. In the timeframe between April 2009 and April 2011, 48 laptops and other mobile devices ended up stolen.

As a result of these incidents, not only personally identifiable information leaked, but also some even more important data, such as the algorithms used to control the International Space Station (ISS), and secret data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion projects.

The biggest issue is not that someone stole the devices, but the idea most of them had no form of encryption implemented.

Advanced persistent attacks (APTs) also targeted NASA. In the fiscal year 2011, there were 47 such attacks; 13 of which were successful.

While it’s uncertain if these were independent or state-funded attacks, the Inspector General’s paper documents some of the more significant investigations revealing the identities of attackers.

So far, two Romanian citizens, two Chinese, one British, one American, one Swedish, and one Italian ended up busted. They are currently under investigation by authorities on suspicion of inflicting damage to NASA infrastructures.

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