NASA Reports 13 Hacking Incidents Last Year

April 10, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. intrude (v.) 
[in-trood] – to enter or break in a property without permission
Example: The man was arrested for intruding the company’s building.

2. access (n.) [ak-ses] – the right to enter or make use of something
Example: Only high officials were given access to the top secret files.

3. procure (v.) [proh-kyoor, pruh-] – to get something by special effort
Example:   The army procured a special weapon after months of negotiations.

4. military (adj.) [mil-i-ter-ee] – pertaining to members or activities relating to an army or any armed forces
Example: Weapons are made and bought by a country for military purposes.

5. cautious (adj.) [kaw-shuhs] – careful
Example: People must be cautious when giving personal information over the internet.

Read the text below.

Hackers successfully intruded NASA’s computer system 13 times in 2011, said Inspector General Paul Martin of NASA in his report to US Congress.

In November, hackers using an IP address from China entered the system of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The laboratory operates 23 spacecraft with active space missions, including spacecraft that will go to Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.

After gaining access, the hackers took full control of the system. Important files were copied, modified or deleted. New user accounts were made, while employee accounts were used to further access different NASA systems. The hackers also changed system logs to hide these activities.

In a separate hacker attack, information from 150 employees was stolen. Martin reported NASA has been slow in adding security to employee laptops.  Some unsecure laptops with data and codes for NASA programs have even been stolen or lost.

Thousands of other security problems were also discovered by NASA from 2010 to 2011. According to NASA, it is making security changes as recommended by the report.

Hacking issues may be the reason why the US Air Force cancelled plans to procure iPads for storing and updating flight information. Some suggest the security fears are because of GoodReader, a program in the iPad made by a Russian developer. However, the Air Force denied this was the reason.

Other military and government branches, meanwhile, are being more cautious with their computer systems, making sure to know which country each part of their hardware and software comes from.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Is technology a threat to security? Please explain your answer.
·         Would you entrust personal information over the Internet? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Should hacking be considered a crime? Why or why not?
·         Do you think hacking has any advantages? If yes, in what ways? If no, why?


April 10, 2012