NASA Reports Critical Breaches, Addresses Cloud

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Breaches of common companies occur all too often. Systems maintained by government agencies surely make use of the highest security standards. However, they too can feel the wrath of hackers.

On Wednesday in a report prepared for the U.S. House of Representatives emphasizing NASA’s need to improve its cyber security, NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin chronicled a serious breach. In it, hackers successfully stole information pertaining to over 150 of the agency’s employees.

The attack affected NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an investigation eventually found the source to come from IP addresses based in China. The most impactful part of the story is that Martin said the stolen information could have given the hackers unauthorized access to NASA systems, allowing them to alter some of the most sensitive data.

However, that breach was just one of 47 APT’s (advanced persistent threats) the agency faced last year. It was also reported that the agency experienced a theft of 48 laptop computing devices in a two year span ranging from April 2009 to 2011.

Another issue highlighted in Martin’s testimony to Congress included challenges faced by NASA regarding the shift towards cloud computing. While noting cloud benefits, Martin also discussed issues that required addressing. “The need to effectively secure Agency data stored in the cloud has emerged as the major challenge to Federal agencies reaping the substantial benefits cloud computing offers,” Martin said. Specifically cited was the potential “loss of customer data” and “infrastructure failure.”

Meanwhile, NASA has kept busy transitioning into a new era. In late August of last year, the agency officially retired its Space Shuttle program which had been active since 1981. Nasa’s Orion spacecraft currently being developed in coordination with Lockheed Martin will eventually succeed the shuttle.