NASA's Global Hawk drone

NASA Denies Claims That Hackers Seized Control of Their $200M Drone

A group of hackers say they gained access to a drone operated by NASA, nearly crashing the craft into the sea, but NASA has denied the claim. Who’s telling the truth?

Last month, the hacking group AnonSec released over 276GB of data it claims came from NASA’s internal networks as part of "OpNasaDrone." The information included the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of 2,414 agency employees, as well as thousands of flight logs and videos taken from NASA aircraft.

Included in the flight logs were pre-planned routes for the space agency’s Global Hawk drones. By adjusting those routes, AnonSec claims it was able to reprogram one of the UAVs to crash into the Pacific Ocean.
"Several members were in disagreement on this because if it worked, we would be labelled terrorists for possibly crashing a $222.7 million US drone…but we continued anyways lol," the hacking group wrote in a statement released along with the stolen data.
The drone’s path was averted at the last minute after NASA engineers noticed the change and corrected the path.
If true, the leak is especially damning for the space agency given how AnonSec claims it managed to breach the network. Using Bitcoin, the hackers say they purchased access to the network, where they found a number of NASA computers with automatically saved passwords.

This wouldn’t be the first time NASA has suffered a major security breach. In 2012, NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin admitted to the US Congress that the agency had lost track of 48 computers, one of which contained "algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station."
But there are reasons to doubt the hacking group’s claims. First – and altogether unsurprisingly – NASA denies that the incident happened. The agency also stated the information presented by AnonSec is widely available.
"Control of our Global Hawk aircraft was not compromised. NASA has no evidence to indicate the alleged hacked data are anything other than already publicly available data. NASA takes cybersecurity very seriously and will continue to fully investigate all of these allegations," the agency said in a statement, according to Popular Science.
But the hacking group’s stated motives also call their claims into question.
"One of the main purposes of the Operation was to bring awareness to the reality of Chemtrails/CloudSeeding/Geoengineering/WeatherModification, whatever you want to call it, they all represent the same thing," the group posted alongside the data dump.

Staff members sit at their work stations at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia, January 13, 2015


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