An unprecedented event related to cybersecurity and space missions was revealed this weekend. According to web application security specialists, a National Space Agency (NASA) astronaut has been accused of unauthorized access to his ex-wife’s bank account while on an agency mission, in what could be the first cybercrime perpetrated from the space.
Former US Air Force officer Summer Worden detected anomalous activity in her online banking logins and, after requesting further reports on this access to the bank’s web application security team, discovered that the equipment used to enter her bank account was connected to a NASA network, pointing to its former couple, the US astronaut Anne McClain, who was on a mission at the space station facilities.
The astronaut has already accepted that she accessed her former partner’s banking account from a computer on the International Space Station; however, McClain’s defense claims that the astronaut did not commit any felony.
After detecting the intrusion, Worden filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accusing the astronaut of identity fraud, web application security experts mentioned; it is worth mentioning that no evidence of any unauthorized movement or transaction in Worden’s bank account was reported. The couple is currently divorced.
In addition, the victim’s family filed a complaint with NASA officials about McClain’s behavior, mentioning that the couple is in the midst of a legal dispute over custody of Worden’s son, conceived by artificial fertilization before the couple got married. The family claims that the astronaut’s actions are intended to force Worden give into his demands and thus obtain custody of the 6-year-old children.
On the other hand, McClain posted a statement on his Twitter account defending against these accusations: “I can surely say that there is not a single truth in these claims. We are going through a very difficult divorce process and I regret that this issue has become public; I appreciate the show of support I have received and I reserve any comments until the investigation is over”, she added.
McClain’s defense, led by lawyer Rusty Hardin, mentions the same version of the astronaut to the media, claiming that she did nothing improper and offering full cooperation with the authorities during the investigation.
According to web application security specialists at the International Institute of Cyber Security, identity fraud is one of the most common cyber crimes nowadays. Threat actors who perform these frauds typically rely to the use of phishing campaigns to obtain some victims’ confidential data, although it should be spotted that people sometimes abuse the trust of friends, family or close ones to improperly access email accounts, social media profiles or even bank accounts, as seems to be the case here.