NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was hacked in April last year; According to IT system audit experts, threat actors managed to steal around 500 MB of data about the missions carried out in this lab. Recently revealed incident reports mention that hackers used a Raspberry Pi board to access compromised systems.
According to reports from the information security news portal Threatpost, the U.S. Office of Inspector General traced the hack to a Raspberry Pi device connected to NASA lab network without authorization. Hackers discovered and exploited the device to access NASA’s network and multiple laboratory systems, such as the Deep Space Network (DSN), the agency’s radio telescopes system.
IT system audit experts believe that while any security incident at NASA must be treated delicately, U.S. government agents acted correctly at the start of an audit to find out what was the main trigger of this problem. For experts, the ease with which hackers were able to navigate through NASA different systems is worrying, mainly because of the large amount of confidential information held by the agency.
According to IT system audit specialists of the International Cyber Security Institute (IICS) another reason that may have contributed to the security breach at NASA is the lack of visibility of the Laboratory’s systems; in other words, security devices did not always manage to identify and verify new devices connected to the network.
In addition, there were no security controls inside the lab to prevent any third party from connecting to the agency’s IT systems. Finally, the incident was not corrected in time, as the vulnerabilities were identified, but remained uncorrected for nearly half a year.
The good news is that NASA seems to have learned the lesson, now the agency is doing the necessary work to strengthen its computer systems to prevent a similar incident from reoccurring.