NASA has recently been targeted by hackers, who have accessed and exposed the personal details of current and former space agency employees.
NASA informed its staff through an internal memo to warn them that the hackers may have stolen their personal details, including information such as social security numbers. They added that they’re treating this incident as a “top priority”, but they did not believe that any NASA mission had been exposed, such as the Moon landings of July 20th, 1969.
The memo, which was sent to employees on Tuesday, also stated that NASA’s cyber security specialists began investigating the issue back in October after suspicions arose that one of its servers had been compromised.
“Upon discovery of the incidents, NASA cyber security personnel took immediate action to secure the servers and the data contained within,” the message read from NASA’s Chief Human Capital Officer, Bob Gibbs.
“NASA and its federal cyber security partners are continuing to examine the servers to determine the scope of the potential data ex-filtration and identify potentially affected individuals. This process will take time. The ongoing investigation is a top agency priority, with senior leadership actively involved. NASA does not believe that any agency missions were jeopardised by the cyber incidents.”
Staff affected by the hack included anyone employed under NASA Civil Service between July 2006 and October 2018. It was also reported that no mission data is thought to be uncovered. It is also currently unknown as to who exactly was behind the hack, but it has put the world on edge, just as to what secret information or any top secret mission information may have been obtained by the hackers.
“Once identified, Nasa will provide specific follow-up information to those employees, past and present, whose PII was affected, to include offering identity protection services and related resources, as appropriate” NASA stated.
“NASA is continuing its efforts to secure all servers, and is reviewing its processes and procedures to ensure that the latest security practices are being followed throughout the agency.”
Security experts also spoke to The Independent, saying that the space agency needs to do more to protect its data, considering this is not the first time it has experienced issues with data breaches.
“This is the third breach of NASA since 2011. The first priority should be to limit harm and help the victims while also ensuring that the breach is re-mediated, but after that it’s time to go into the more painful mission phase and learn from the results”. Sam Curry, chief security officer of Cybereason stated.
“Countermeasures are important, but we the public want to know what this government agency is learning from the past, we want the post mortem, we want the agency to get better because while PII and employee privacy are vital, there are many things at NASA in the national security domain and are of vital importance to the nation. From a security perspective, we all hope that the third time is a charm and that there is no fourth.”
NASA have previously faced issues with hackers, including an incident where hackers took over control the of computers in the jet propulsion laboratory in 2011, which was very scary indeed, then just two years later, another hacking incident occurred that led to eight web domains being obliterated by a cyber gang going by the name of the ‘Master Italian Hackers Team’.
If this news is anything to go by, then it does really sound like a separate Space Force is needed, as well as, NASA updating their web security systems to prevent hackers from gaining access. Since just imagine, if the hackers could have obtained top secret mission files, and then only to expose them later. Who knows?
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: GBHackers