31 Mar 2011

NASA at risk from cyber criminals

NASA inspector general Paul Martin recently said computer hackers could potentially attack NASA computers, according to a report by the Register.

The services Martin oversees, relate to mission networks and computers for spacecraft in orbit. If hackers accessed the vulnerabilities in the system, the end result could be devastating for NASA, said Martin.

Experienced hackers could exploit weaknesses already in the system and gain control of it, hurting NASA’s operations. The methods hackers may use include leaving the system open to defacement and denial of service attacks, the article stated.

“We found that computer servers on NASA's agency-wide mission network had high risk vulnerabilities that were exploitable from the internet,” said Martin. “Specifically, six computer servers associated with IT assets that control spacecraft and contain critical data had vulnerabilities that would allow a remote hacker to take control of or render them unavailable.”

According to a recent report by an internet security company, hackers currently have the greatest opportunity of accessing sensitive information. Due to the increased use of mobile phones, employees are constantly accessing company information, allowing cyber criminals greater opportunity to infiltrate the system.