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Chinese hackers gained control over NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in November, which could have allowed them delete sensitive files, add user accounts to mission-critical systems, upload hacking tools, and more -- all at a central repository of U.S. space technology, according to a report released Wednesday afternoon by the Office of the Inspector General.
That report revealed scant details of an ongoing investigation into the incident against the Pasadena, Calif., lab, noting only that cyberattacks against the JPL involved Chinese-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
Paul K. Martin, NASA’s inspector general, put his conclusions bluntly. “The attackers had full functional control over these networks,” he wrote. JPL is a jewel in NASA's space technology crown.
“In 2010 and 2011, NASA reported 5,408 computer security incidents that resulted in the installation of malicious software on or unauthorized access to its systems,” his report states. “These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit.” Other incidents “may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” he noted.
Six NASA servers exposed to the Internet had critical vulnerabilities that could have endangered Space Shuttle, International Space Station and Hubble Telescope missions -- flaws that would have been found by a security oversight program the agency agreed to last year but hasn't yet implemented, according to a report by the agency's inspector general.
"In 2010 and 2011, NASA reported 5,408 computer security incidents that resulted in the installation of malicious software on or unauthorized access to its systems,"
...JPL manages the Deep Space Network, a network of antenna complexes on several continents that monitors both outer space and planet Earth.