Hackers claim to post 250gb of NASA data on the internet

News by Rene Millman

US space agency denies it has a problem as AnonSec claims to have easily guessed passwords for devices once they had breached the perimeter.

Hacking group AnonSec has claimed that it has posted files on Pastebin that is managed to copy from servers belonging to Nasa. The group also claimed to have taken control of a Nasa drone.

The files are said to include names, phone numbers and email addresses of 2414 NASA employees, as well as more than 2000 flight logs and 600 video feeds from the agency's aircraft fleet.

AnonSec put the files on the web and explained how it managed to do it.

The hackers said that it had bought access to a Nasa server from someone it identified as “Ghosts”. It dubbed the alleged hack “OpNasaDrones” and made the claim that it had even attempted to crash a Nasa Global Hawk drone. The data theft is alleged to have begun in 2013 over a period of several months. The group managed to find admin names and default passwords to remotely access servers.

"People might find this lack of security surprising, but it's pretty standard from our experience,” the group wrote on Pastebin. "Once you get past the main lines of defence, it's pretty much smooth sailing propagating through a network as long as you can maintain access. Too many corporations and governments focus 99 percent on preventing intruders instead of having viable solutions once there is a security breach, which is guaranteed to happen."

AnonSec also said it had passed on data from the hack to WikiLeaks and the Guardian. Its main aim was to discover Nasa's work in climate engineering projects, such as cloud seeding and geoengineering. 

“One of the main purposes of the Operation,” the hackers said, “was to bring awareness to the reality of Chemtrails/Cloud Seeding/Geoengineering/Weather Modification, whatever you want to call it, they all represent the same thing. NASA even has several missions dedicated to studying Aerosols and their effects on the environment and weather, so we targeted their systems.”

In a statement to the media, Allard Beutel, acting director of NASA's news and multimedia division denied the hack ever took place but did say an alleged breach was being investigated.

"Control of our Global Hawk aircraft was not compromised," said Beutel. "NASA has no evidence to indicate the alleged hacked data are anything other than already publicly available data. NASA takes cyber-security very seriously and will continue to fully investigate all of these allegations."

“NASA strives to make our scientific data publicly available, including large data sets, which seems to be how the information in question was retrieved,” he added.

James Scott, senior fellow and co-founder of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, said, “This is just a claim at this stage and that is very important for people to understand. The information they are giving, for example the employee list for NASA, can be created with even a basic windows operating system exploit so the list doesn't prove anything.

“The screenshots that are supposedly from the drone's flight pattern can easily be fraudulently designed. The website that ‘broke' this story is not so reliable either.”

Steve Ward, senior director at iSIGHT Partners, told SCMagazineUK.com that additional media reports and an initial assessments indicate that the employee data is accurate.

“Such an intrusion, particularly if the network foothold was provided by a different actor, is consistent with AnonSec's assessed capability. However, AnonSec has a history of sensationalist claims that suggests it is likely exaggerating its control of the drone. AnonSec has demonstrated the ability to improve its technical and organisational sophistication and is likely to remain a threat in the near-term,” he said. 

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