Published: Sun, June 23, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

A rogue Raspberry Pi helped hackers access NASA JPL systems

A rogue Raspberry Pi helped hackers access NASA JPL systems

The hacker used a Raspberry Pi to access the system and exploit the security flaws within the network in order to successfully pull off the hack.

Coming to the April 2018 breach, OIG's review states that the hack was carried out by targeting an unauthorized Raspberry Pi attached to the JPL network.

But in April 2018 "JPL discovered an account belonging to an external user had been compromised and used to steal approximately 500 megabytes of data from one of its major mission systems".

A $25 Raspberry Pi is not in itself a nefarious device, just as flash drives are not in themselves nefarious devices.

NASA also said the hacking opened the door to possible manipulation from the Deep Space Network, an worldwide system of radio antennas that collects data from and commands interplanetary space missions, as well as a few that orbit Earth. NASA has done things like this before when they launched the InSight lander back in 2018 and once when they sent the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to the asteroid Bennu.

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"He didn't regularly enter new devices into the ITSDB as required because the database's updating function sometimes does not work and he later forgets to enter the asset information."
"The device should not have been permitted on the JPL network without the JPL [Office of the Chief Information Officer]'s review and approval". This lack of segmentation allowed the attackers to bounce from network to network, accessing multiple classified and highly sensitive databases and systems. This led to a concern the hackers could potentially gain access and initiate "malicious signals to human space flight missions".

The Star-News says hackers also broke into JPL in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

And in 2014, the rover also located some sort of "white spot" which might've been a glint from the "rock surface reflecting the Sun", according to Dr Justin Maki, a scientist at NASA'S Jet Propulsion Lab.

In response to the attack, the Johnson Space Center in Houston segregated their network from JPL's, meaning that NASA's various departments did not have segmented networks.

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