U.S. Agency to `Hack' NASA Computer
Saturday, May 9, 1998; 10:56 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Agents from the National Security
try to break into NASA's computers to determine
whether the space
agency can fend off cyber-intruders who could threaten
and other critical operations, the trade publication
Defense Week reports.
The ``penetration study'' of the National Aeronautics
Administration's unclassified computer networks is an
effort to learn how
easily troublemakers can get to sensitive data and
what NASA's doing
Teams from the intelligence agency will soon try to
networks in up to eight states, said the newsletter in
the edition to be
Last June, NSA ``hackers'' showed they could cripple
battle-management computers and U.S. electric power
The NASA ``penetration study,'' which will be run
under the auspices of
the General Accounting Office, stands out because it
involves a U.S.
civilian agency, and such operations are barred by the
1952 law that
created NSA, the newsletter said.
However, the law barring domestic activities contains
an exception if the
spy agency is invited to do the work.
Still, the publication said the planned test raised
questions of privacy.
John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, a
veteran observer of
both NASA and the intelligence community, told the
newsletter that the
NASA test breaks new ground and bears close watching.
``This is the next big step in NSA's expanding role in
security,'' he said. ``It's certainly the first
reported major initiative of this
sort with respect to a non-military agency. While a
number of safeguards
are in place, there are concerns about the potential
for abuse of this type
But Charles Redmond, the space agency's manager of
information-technology security, said the test was
``not an invasion of
NASA preferred to have the intelligence agency do the
tests because it
wanted to protect security and proprietary data and to
avoid any conflict
of interest, Redmond said.
The tests will determine how easy it is to access
sensitive sites and
whether they can be accessed through the Internet.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press