[ISN] Intelligence agency to try to 'hack' into NASA computers

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sun May 10 1998 - 22:13:50 PDT

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    Intelligence agency to try to 'hack' into NASA computers
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Agents from the National Security Agency will try to
    break into NASA's computers to determine whether the space agency can fend
    off cyber-intruders who could threaten launch-control and other critical
    operations, the trade publication Defense Week reports. 
    The "penetration study" of the National Aeronautics and Space
    Administration's unclassified computer networks is an effort to learn how
    easily troublemakers can get to sensitive data and what NASA is doing
    about it. 
    Teams from the intelligence agency will soon try to penetrate NASA
    networks in up to eight states, said the newsletter in the edition to be
    published Monday. 
    Last June, NSA "hackers" showed they could cripple Pacific Command
    battle-management computers and U.S. electric power grids. 
    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 domestic information
    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 of activity." 
    But Charles Redmond, the space agency's manager of information-technology
    security, said the test was "not an invasion of privacy." 
    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. All rights reserved. This material
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