02 March 2012

Laptop with ISS Command Codes Stolen from NASA in 2011

An unencrypted laptop stolen from NASA last year contained codes used to control the International Space Station (ISS), the space agency's inspector general told Congress on Wednesday in written testimony discussing NASA's cybersecurity—or lack thereof.

Such security incidents resulted in losses of more than $7 million.
In 2010 and 2011, NASA said it experienced 47 cyberattacks by well-heeled and skillful hacking operations known as "Advanced Persistent Threats."
NASA has a $1.5 billion annual IT budget, of which approximately $58 million is spent on IT security. But the space agency is way behind the curve when it comes to encrypting some of its most vulnerable IT assets. Federal agencies encrypt about 54 percent of their laptops and other mobile devices on average, but as of Feb. 1, 2012, NASA had only encrypted 1 percent of its own mobile systems.

The space agency is also deficient in routine IT upkeep. For example, a May 2010 OIG audit found that only 24 percent of applicable computers on a mission network were monitored for critical software patches and only 62 percent were monitored for technical vulnerabilities. The detailed control test of this network identified several high-risk technical vulnerabilities on a system that provides mission support to manned and unmanned spacecraft....

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