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NASA Laptop With ISS Command Codes Missing

Space Agency IG Reveals The Theft In Congressional Testimony

A laptop which contained command codes for the International Space Station was stolen last year, according to Congressional testimony from the NASA Inspector General. It was one of 48 pilfered from the agency between April 2009 and April 2011.

In written testimony presented to a House committee looking into NASA security, IG Paul K. Martin said that “(t)he March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station. Other lost or stolen notebooks contained Social Security numbers and sensitive data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion programs.”

CBS Television reports that Martin said that computer thefts and over 5,400 computer security incidents in the last two years cost the agency about $7 million. “These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” he said.

In one cyber attack hackers got away with the credentials for over 150 NASA employees. In all, 13 of 47 attempted cyber attacks against the agency resulted in the hacker gaining access to unencrypted data last year.

The OMB says that only about one percent of NASA's laptops and other portable devices are encrypted. Martin said that until the agency adopts a comprehensive encryption policy, its data will remain vulnerable to such attacks.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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