24 Jan 2012

Virus attacks Japanese space program

A computer virus apparently attacked the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, potentially causing it to lose sensitive data. One of the agency's terminals also was infected, according to Japanese officials. Stronger antivirus software may be needed by the agency to protect sensitive information.

The malware was discovered by JAXA on January 6 on a terminal used by an employee. JAXA officials said a trace showed the virus had pulled information from the infected machine, but it is still uncertain how the machine was infected in the first place.

“Information stored in the computer as well as system information that is accessible by the employee have been leaking outside. We are now confirming the leaked information and investigating the cause,” Space.com quoted JAXA as saying.

Officials suspect the information breach may have taken place due to information about the robotic space craft and its operations. The virus is said to have taken email addresses and system log-in information from the infected computer. For internet security breaches like this, JAXA and similar agencies would be wise to shore up antivirus software to catch these problems before they occur.