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
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
"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
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
"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.