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Serial hacker TinKode rifles through NASA satellite files

Greyhat adds scalp to those of Royal Navy, MySQL, ESA

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A serial hacker has broken into NASA systems before posting "proof" of his exploits online.

TinKode – who previously ransacked online system run by the Royal Navy, MySQL.com and the European Space Agency – posted screenshots purporting to come from an FTP server within the NASA's Earth Observation System at Goddard Space Flight Center. The supposed hack by the Romanian into the Earth Observation System – a satellite-based system used for disaster relief – is sure to embarrass space centre chiefs, especially since it comes only weeks after a negative report on NASA's information security strategy.

NASA's Inspector General warned (40-page PDF/1.1MB) in March that security shortcomings at the space agency left it open to defacement, denial of service or information-stealing attacks. NASA bosses promised to tighten up security policies, a process that TinKode's exploit would suggest is far from completion.

It's unclear how TinKode might have busted into the space agency's website. Interviews with the grey-hatted hacker, as well as his general modus operandi, suggest that he is motivated more by intellectual curiosity than mischief. TinKode told Network World that he notified NASA's webmaster straight after carrying out his hack and there's no evidence to suggest anything malign took place. ®

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