Hackers breached NASA’s computer network 13 times last year to gain access in critical projects which may compromise national security.
According to the federal report, identification of about 150 NASA employees were compromised in a hacking attack which subsequently lead to gaining control over key networks at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
According to Paul K. Martin, NASA’s inspector general's written comment submitted to Congress this week he noted that between 2010 and 2011 the agency reportedly witnessed 5,408 computer security breaches, which resulted in the spread of destructive software or unauthorized access to computer systems.
Paul Martin in the statement said, "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,"
United States officials have targeted China for sponsoring data breaches occurring in the state. In November 2011, NASA registered about 47 attacks which they described as “advanced persistent threats”.
According to the reports the attacks were well funded, and the attack which gained access to Jet Propulsion Laboratory was based in China. The attack enabled hackers to modify, copy, create user accounts and compromise details of users and NASA systems.
Paul Martin said, “"Our review disclosed that the intruders had compromised the accounts of the most privileged JPL users, giving the intruders access to most of JPL's networks".
Bridging security gap
Of the total information technology budget of $1.5 Billion, NASA spends $58 million on the security which cautioned that those figures may not represent the full cost of expenditures because of the way the agency bundles funding.
Computer security has been a major concern for NASA as in five years 21 audits are conducted and 69 IT recommendations has been made by NASA inspector general.
Paul Martin also said NASA has moved too slowly to encrypt or scramble the data on its laptop computers to protect information from falling into the wrong hands.
Paul Martin wrote, “The March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of the algorithms which was utilized to command and control the International Space Station."