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TUCoPS :: General Information :: nasahack.txt

The NASA Hackers




 
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*                          Tarkin Darklighter                               *
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*                               Presents:                                   *
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*                           The NASA Hackers                                *
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*                          September 16, 1987                               *
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*       Call:  DSF Devestator   (214) 581-7565     Supporting the IIgs.     *
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     This was in the newspaper today, and in the interest of keeping the
phreak/hack world informed, here is the article:


     WASHINGTON -- Computer hackers in West Germany broke into a NASA
computer network that contains technical information from space shuttle
flights and were able to manipulate the data stored there, a West German news
report said Tuesday.
     NASA, responding to the report, said its computer-security system
detected three electronic break-ins in August, at least one of which came
from West Germany.  Spokesmen for the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration downplayed the significance of the incident, saying the
network contained postflight technical data from the space shuttle, none of
which was classified.
     The hackers reportedly gained access to information by asking the NASA
computers for information under such keywords as "shuttle," "challenger," and
"secret."
     The NASA network is one of hundreds operated by groups around the world
as a means of sharing information.  The networks are linked to the telephone
system, and authorized users can gain access after connecting their computers
to a phone line.  In most cases, a user needs only to know the networks'
telephone number and a password or access code.
     Computer-security experts say it is impossible to make a computer
network immune to break-in by hackers, computer enthusiasts who like the
challenge of dialing into computer systems without authorization.
Persistence, logic, and clever computer programs allow hackers to break
access codes and find passwords.
     Stringency of access to NASA networks varies depending on the degree of
risk posed by unathorized access, an agency statement said.  All the networks
are routinely monitored and attempted break-ins -- which are fairly common --
are investigated, the NASA statement said.
     The breached computer network, called the Space Physics Analysis
Networks, is one of several that NASA operates.  SPAN lets scientists and
engineers in various universities and other research centers quickly send or
recieve technical data from a space flight.  Its chief goal is to provide
NASA managers with analyses of spacecraft performance.
     "Any individual or organization engaged in NASA-related research can
apply for access to SPAN," a NASA statement said.  "We know of no classified
information which can be accessed through the network."
     NASA spokesman William Marshall said the space agency could not comment
on the hackers' statement that they had been able to manipulate data for
four months.  The hackers did not say that they had done so, but Marshall
observed that legitimate users can enter new data into the system.
     The break-in came to light when a West German television, ARD, reported
on a statement released by the Hamburg-based Chaos Computer Club.  Club
officials reportedly were approached for help by youthful hackers when the
hackers realized the significance of what they had done.
     News reports said young West Germans gained regular access to at least
20 NASA computers and had the ability to paralyze the network.
     The club also said the hackers had gained access to computers at the
European Space Agency in Darmstadt, West Germany, at the European Nuclear
Research Center in Geneva and at the European Laboratory for Molecular
Biology in Heidelburg.
     The Hamburg-based magazine Stern reported similar information Tuesday.
     "When I saw 'Welcome to the NASA headquarters ... installation' on my
screen, I was a little shocked, to say the least," the magazine quoted one
youth as saying.
     The club statement said the hackers penetrated the network to show the
"unbelievable weaknesses" of the security system, and that they had no
interest in the secret data.  It was also said the penetration was discovered
in August and that all organizations using the network were notified.
     So far, no charges have been filed in the case, but a West German
Justice Ministry spokesman said the hackers' actions are punishable by up to
three years in prison and fines.



     Look for more articles such as this in the near future.

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*                 Call:  DSF Devestator    (214) 581-7565                   *
*                           Supporting the IIgs.                            *
*                                                                           *
*                    A member of the Deep Space Fleet.                      *
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