US Government Shutdown made NASA vulnerable to Cyber Attacks


Recent US Government Shutdown which lasted for almost 35 days is said to have put the employees of NASA to extreme cyber risks. Yes, you’ve read it right! The shutdown not only failed to pay the employees the salary but also stalled several critical science missions and exposed them to cyber threats launched by the adversaries.

The shutdown which started on Dec 22 last year, ended on January 25, 2019- becoming the longest shutdown in the history of America- just before the 21-day standoff in 1995-1996, under the regime of President Bill Clinton.

A source from the space agency’s Security Operations Center (SOC) said that the staff of the security center did not stop fighting cybercrime taking place on the IT infrastructure of NASA- despite the fact that they weren’t paid for their regular duty.

However, they lacked the resources during the shutdown period which otherwise could have made them raise their defensive skills to high levels- thus saving time and money for the space organization.

“NASA faced one cyber threat per day during the shutdown period”, said Renee Wynn, the CIO of NASA.

But that doesn’t mean the security staff allowed the hackers to break into the systems said, Wynn.

“Across the world, they are several nations which are interested in snooping onto the info of the federal government and that’s because the technology eventually resolves the balance of power on earth which can be also be used in a negative way by adversaries”, said Jim Bridenstine, the administrator in Chief of NASA.

Bridenstine specified that during the 35-day shutdown, NASA had to take down at least thirty-five federal web portals due to the expiry of security certificates.

Furthermore, most of the computers in the space agency had to be isolated from the web as they were vulnerable to cyber attacks due to their non-renewal of software licenses and non-installation of security patches.

Hope, someone from the Trump administration has made a note of all such cyber risks which emerged from the recent partial shutdown due to Donald Trump’s adamant decision of building a wall across the Mexican border at a cost of $5 billion.

Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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