Cybersecurity incidents in NASA
Cybersecurity incidents at NASA increased by 366% last year because the organization’s cybersecurity budget was slashed by $3.1m.
New research published yesterday by virtual network provider AtlasVPN found NASA suffered 315 cyber-incidents in 2018. In 2019, that figure shot up to 1,469.
“Being one among the nation’s most vital federal agencies, this is often an alarming finding,” wrote Atlas researchers. “Cyber incidents at NASA can affect national security, property, and individuals whose data might be lost thanks to data breaches.”
The findings were supported data gathered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2018 and 2019. OMB reviews government agencies annually and shoulders the responsibility for developing and overseeing the implementation of cybersecurity policies, guidelines, and standards in federal agencies.
A digital security incident is defined by the researchers as “any attempted or actual unauthorized access, use, disclosure, or destruction of information” plus digital incidents that include “interfering with operations within the organization and violations of NASA’s computing policies and regulations.”
Incidents recorded as “improper usage” accounted for 90.5% of the huge increase. The term “improper use” refers to any incident whereby a licensed user violates an organization’s acceptable usage policies.
A positive finding made by researchers was that despite NASA’s large size, only 15 incidents during which equipment owned by the corporate was lost or stolen were reported in 2019, down from 23 such occurrences in 2018.
“It has got to be noted that NASA does employ quite 17,000 people, so a number of them are sure to lose or get equipment stolen, albeit cybercriminals aren’t targeting NASA directly,” wrote researchers.
NASA is one of the few major federal agencies whose cybersecurity budget was lower in 2019 than it had been in 2018 after it had been cut from $170,700,000 to $167,600,000.
The news comes just days after NASA astronauts made history by entering the International space platform from a commercially made spacecraft (a SpaceX Crew Dragon) for the very first time. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were blasted into orbit by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, May 30, from the Kennedy Space Center.