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NASA's 'unacceptable' security lapses: By the numbers
Cyber attacks and other breaches cost NASA millions of dollars a year. Why is the space agency such a popular target?
One of the 48 NASA laptops stolen contained codes that control the International Space Station.
One of the 48 NASA laptops stolen contained codes that control the International Space Station.
NASA
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ASA is a gold mine of space-age secrets, so one might expect it to have an impenetrable security system. But the agency's inspector general, Paul Martin, last week told a House subcommittee of a litany of security breaches between 2009 and 2011, including a stolen laptop containing command and control codes for the International Space Station. "NASA's position as an agency for national edification of all things space makes it an especially porous and attractive target for hackers and thieves," says Heather McLellan at the Escapist. And "such a high volume of breaches is unacceptable for an agency like NASA." Here, a look at the unsettling losses, by the numbers:

48
NASA-owned notebooks and mobile devices stolen between 2009 and 2011

1
Stolen laptops containing security codes that control the International Space Station. The theft, however, "did not put the orbiting lab in peril," said a NASA spokesperson.

5,408
Cyber-security incidents in 2010 and 2011 that led to the installation of malware or resulted in unauthorized access to NASA's systems

47
Incidents classified as "advanced persistent threats" (APTs) — which are not only more sophisticated than regular attacks, but can result in the theft or modification of information without detection 

13
APT attacks that successfully compromised NASA computers

20
Age of Romanian hacker "TinKode" (real name Razvan Manole Cernaiu), who successfully hacked into a computer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in 2011 to test his "skills

25
Computers in NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Program compromised by another Romanian hacker, 25-year old Robert Butkya, a.k.a "Iceman" 

$500,000
NASA losses from intrusions by "Iceman" alone

$7 million
NASA's total losses resulting from cyber attacks in 2010 and 2011

$58 million
Annual NASA expenditures for information technology security

$1.5 billion
Annual expense for information technology overall

Sources: The Escapist, MSNBC, NASA [PDF], Outcome Mag, Techspot

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