NASA confirmed that hackers gained access to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) last year and they able to steal 500MB of data that related to Mars missions. The hackers breached into NASA network in April 2018 and intrusion remains undetected nearly for a year.
According to the OIG report, an Unauthorized Raspberry Pi Computer Connected to the JPL Servers without security audit allows the hackers to gain access to the network, and they moved further into the network.
In total attackers have stolen 23 files, out of the 2 files are most confidential ones that contain information about International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Mars Science Laboratory Mission.
The report states that system administrators failed to update the inventory when the new devices are attached to the network that shared with External Partners to access the JPL network gateway.
The network gateway allows external users and partners, including foreign space agencies, contractors, and educational institutions, remote access to a shared environment for specific missions and data.
JPL failed to limit the partner users to access only to the authorized systems and applications, which allows an attacker to explore further into the network. If there is a boundary specified the attacker cannot bypass it.
“The cyberattacker from the April 2018 incident exploited the JPL network’s lack of segmentation to move between various systems connected to the gateway, including multiple JPL mission operations and the DSN.”
Also, the report indicates that system administrators failed to review the system and application logs due to the misunderstanding of responsibilities in place, allows the attackers to stay undetected for nearly a year.
“JPL uses its Information Technology Security Database (ITSDB) to track and manage physical assets and applications on its network; however, we found the database inventory incomplete and inaccurate, placing at risk JPL’s ability to monitor, report effectively, and respond to security incidents.”
“NIST recommends that organizations conduct periodic reviews of processes and procedures to ensure effective log management for detecting threats in their IT environment.”
This is not the first hackers gained access to the NASA system; here are some notable attacks.
2009 – An attacker penetrated to JPL systems and extracted 22 gigabytes of data.
2011 – China-based IP address gained access to servers supporting JPL missions.
2014 – Vulnerability detected by JPL that allows an attacker to inject malware.
2016 – Website misconfiguration allows an anonymous user to gain access with elevated privileges.
2017 – Hackers Exploited spacecraft server by exploiting a zero-day.