Feeds

Top NASA scientist busted for leaking satellite intel

Key networks not secured

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A former NASA scientist who helped discover evidence of water on the moon has been arrested on charges he tried to sell Israel classified information about US military satellite systems.

Stewart Nozette, 52, of Maryland, was arrested in a sting in which an FBI agent posed as an Israeli intelligence officer. According to federal prosecutors, he demanded money and a new Israeli passport in exchange for the sensitive information, which he obtained while working with a high security clearance for the US space agency.

The charges came Monday, just a few days after a government watchdog agency warned congress that NASA has failed to adequately secure its computer networks against hackers, terrorists, and hostile nations. The report (PDF) from the Government Accountability Office cited a long list of shortcomings, including the lack of sufficient systems to authenticate users who access the system.

The shortcomings "make it possible for intruders, as well as government and contractor employees, to bypass or disable computer access controls and undertake a wide variety of inappropriate or malicious acts," the report concluded. "As a result, increased and unnecessary risk exists that sensitive information is subject to unauthorized disclosure, modification, and destruction and that mission operations could be disrupted."

NASA networks and systems have already been successfully targeted by attackers, the report said. During fiscal years 2007 and 2008, NASA reported 1,120 incidents that resulted in malware being installed and unauthorized access to sensitive information. Last year, the space agency established a security operations center to prevent attacks. While NASA has made important progress in securing its networks, it still faces serious shortcomings.

"NASA has not yet fully implemented key activities of its information security program to ensure that controls are appropriately designed and operating effectively," the report said. "Despite actions to address prior security incidents, NASA remains vulnerable to similar incidents."

The charges leveled against Nozette suggest that NASA isn't the only US government agency that was affected by the breach. In addition to his research into lunar poles, he also held top security clearances from the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.