Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hacking NASA

"'We've been repeatedly compromised,' says a former NASA official who describes an ongoing attempt by the government and major security contractors such as Boeing, Lockheed, SAIC, and Booz Allen Hamilton to defend the space agency's networks. ... By early 1999 the volume of intrusions had grown so worrisome that Thomas J. Talleur, the most senior investigator specializing in cyber-security in the Inspector General's office at NASA, wrote a detailed 'network intrusion threat advisory.' ... The investigators made an even more alarming discovery, according to people familiar with the probe: The cyber-crime ring had connections to a Russian electronic spy agency known by the initials FAPSI. None of this has ever been made public, and BusinessWeek could not independently corroborate the Russian ties. ... Why would Russians want to cripple a satellite beloved worldwide by students of pulsars and supernovas? ... Put differently, manipulating ROSAT could teach an adversary how to toy with just about anything the U.S. put into the sky. ... Some NASA investigators believed top officials tried to keep a lid on what had happened at the Marshall Center so the agency wouldn't suffer criticism from Congress or the public. Internal e-mails and statements written by Michael G. Ball, a Huntsville-based NASA special agenct, and several of his colleagues describe an investigation repeatedly stalled by superiors who sought to play down any impression that the incident had compromised national security. ... NASA Inspector General Cobb, a former ethics counsel to President George W. Bush ... handling of the case became part of the focus of an investigation by a watchdog agency known as the President's Council on Integrity & Efficiency. The investigation concerned 78 allegations that Cobb had retaliated against whistleblowers and failed to investigate incidents that could potentially embarrass NASA. ... China has not made a secret of its thirst for advanced missile and rocket technology. 'Seizing space dominance is the road for winning war in the Information Age,' Li Daguang, a researcher at the government-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences, wrote in 2004 in a publication of the People's Liberation Army, Zhongguo Guofang Bao', my emphasis, Keith Epstein and Ben Elgin at BusinessWeek, 1 December 2008.

I doubt our space satellites will survive 72 hours of war with China. China will use the "Samson Strategy", i.e., poke our eyes out. Our high-tech war plans will be exposed as largely chimerical.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If satellites knocked out I hope that there is a ground based alternative...

Who plans for this stuff?