Compromised: Hackers Gain Access to 23 U.S. Spacecraft, Top Level User Accounts at NASA Jet Propulsion Labs
March 9th, 2012
If this doesn’t demonstrate how susceptible our national computer networks and infrastructure are to rogue threats and state sponsored cyber warfare, than we don’t know what does:
Chinese hackers gained ‘full access’ to the computer network in one of Nasa’s key control centres, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
JPL manages 23 spacecraft conducting active space missions, including missions to Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.
The hackers, operating from an internet address in China, gained full system access in November 2011, allowing them to upload hacking tools to steal user IDs and control Nasa systems, as well as copy sensitive files.
‘The intruders had compromised the accounts of the most privileged JPL users, giving the intruders access to most of JPL’s networks,’ said National Aeronautics and Space Administration Inspector General Paul Martin.
Martin said the hackers gained full system access, which allowed them to modify, copy, or delete sensitive files, create new user accounts and upload hacking tools to steal user credentials and compromise other NASA systems.
Source: Daily Mail
While JPL may not directly control access to the military’s surveillance and weapons systems, the networks likely utilize security measures similar to those used by the Pentagon, which means that those systems are just as susceptible as NASA. In recent years the Pentagon has also dealt with widespread, coordinated attacks originating from China, Russia and rogue operatives that have allowed hackers to gain access to highly sensitive materials.
In addition to the obvious threat posed by cyber attacks that compromise space and military defense systems, it is clear that the Chinese especially are working to deliberately sabotage our national security, as was demonstrated recently when the United States Navy detected the existence of some 59,000 computer chips from China that were manufactured with ‘back doors’ which could be used at an opportune time to affect everything from missile guidance systems to tracking of friendlies and enemies on the battlefield.
But cyber attacks aren’t limited to just military systems or NASA. Recent reports suggest the whole of the U.S. computer grid is constantly being tested and exploited.