Triskaidekaphobia* Stalks NASA

Mar 13Triskaidekaphobia* Stalks NASA

Hackers got NASA’s number, which turns out to be thirteen, the number of times NASA’s computer systems were breached last year.

Testifying before Congress, Paul Martin said, “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.

“Some of these intrusions have affected thousands of NASA computers, caused significant disruption to mission operations, and resulted in the theft of export-controlled and otherwise sensitive data, with an estimated cost to NASA of more than $7 million.”

Mashable.com reports that in one instance, the agency discovered an intrusion into its system by hackers working through a China-based IP address. The hackers gained access to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s network, allowing them to view, copy, delete and tamper with classified information. But, before closing the door behind them, the hackers uploaded software allowing them access to other NASA systems while covering their digital tracks.

In a separate breach, hackers took computer access codes from more than 150 NASA employees. Unfortunately, Martin said, the agency failed to move quickly enough to ensure that those hackers wouldn’t be able to use the codes to gain access to its networks.

Making note of the increasing sophistication of the attacks, which NASA has spent approximately $58 million on security to deter, Martin comments, “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. Even more troubling, skilled and committed cyberattackers could choose to cause significant disruption to NASA operations, as IT networks are central to all aspects of NASA’s operations.”

FBI director, Robert Mueller has said that hackers could top terrorists as the main threat to the U.S. in the near future.

*Triskaidekaphobia. On the off chance you may not know and can’t wait till the next Friday the Thirteenth to hear it on the news, triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

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