Laptop theft did not put space station in peril: NASA

Mar 02, 2012
NASA logo

A stolen US space agency laptop containing codes that control the International Space Station did not put the orbiting lab in peril, a NASA spokesman said on Friday.

The unencrypted went missing in March 2011 and "resulted in the loss of the algorithms used to command and control the ," Paul Martin told lawmakers this week.

But the US space agency insisted that international astronauts were never at risk aboard the research outpost.

"NASA takes the issue of IT security very seriously, and at no point in time have operations of the International Space Station been in jeopardy due to a data breach," spokesman Trent Perrotto said.

The theft was alerted to Congress on Wednesday along with 5,408 computer security "incidents" that resulted in unauthorized access to NASA systems or installation of in the past two years, Martin said.

Perpetrators are suspected to include small-time hackers, organized criminal networks and foreign .

The attacks affected thousands of NASA computers and cost the agency more than seven million dollars in 2010 and 2011, he said.

Over the past few years, investigations have resulted in the arrests and convictions of hackers from China, Great Britain, Italy, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Turkey, and Estonia, he said.

One still under investigation happened in November 2011, when NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California reported "suspicious network activity involving Chinese-based IP addresses," he 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," he added in testimony to the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee.

"In other words, the attackers had full functional control over these networks."

To better guard against such attacks, "NASA needs to improve agency-wide oversight of the full range of its IT assets," and must encrypt more of its mobile and laptop devices, of which just one percent are currently encrypted, he said.

Until then, NASA "will continue to be at risk for security incidents that can have a severe adverse effect on Agency operations and assets."

NASA's spokesman said in response that the is in the process of implementing his recommendations and has made "significant progress to better protect the agency's IT systems."

Explore further: Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA boosts Webb telescope cost to $8.7 billion

Aug 25, 2011

NASA has boosted its cost estimate of a major telescope project to 8.7 billion dollars, even as lawmakers have threatened to slash the space agency's budget, a spokesman said Wednesday.

NASA marks five-year space milestone

Nov 02, 2005

NASA scientists will break out the thermostabalized beef tips and rehydratable apple cider Wednesday as they celebrate a major space milestone.

NASA extends its Russian space contract

Apr 10, 2007

NASA has signed a $719 million extension of the International Space Station contract with Russia's Federal Space Agency for services through 2011.

Astronauts send royal wedding wishes from space

Apr 29, 2011

International Space Station astronauts sent greetings from the cosmos to Prince William and Kate Middleton after soaring over Britain on the eve of the royal wedding Friday.

Recommended for you

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

10 minutes ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Dawn operating normally after safe mode triggered

20 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned ...

Repaired Opportunity rover readies for 'Marathon Valley'

21 minutes ago

With a newly cleared memory, it's time for Opportunity to resume the next stage of its long, long Martian drive. The next major goal for the long-lived rover is to go to Marathon Valley, a spot that (in images ...

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

3 hours ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

6 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevins
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012
So they can not vent the air or maybe spin the station like a top?
hope not.
_ucci_oo
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
Countries always whine about the U.S. But they'll go out of their way to find out about our technology.It's easier to steal than develop.
pargy
not rated yet Mar 03, 2012
They need Smarter Data from Covata.com!