Militarisation of cyberspace: how the global power struggle moved online | Technology | The Guardian
The audaciousness of some of the attacks has been astounding. Earlier this month, Nasa’s inspector general, Paul Martin, revealed the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters in Pasadena, California, had been compromised by an attack that appeared to come from China.
The JPL manages 23 spacecraft, including missions to Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, and controls the International Space Station.
In remarkable testimony to Congress, Martin said hackers had “gained full system access” to JPL, allowing them to modify, copy, or delete sensitive files, create new ones, and upload hacking tools to compromise other Nasa systems. In short, they were running the network.
This was only one of 47 cyber-attacks on Nasa last year, 13 of which successfully compromised the agency’s firewalls.
Martin said some of the intrusions “may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives”.
There is debate on how effective, and for how long, a cyber-attack from China could knock out an energy supply or communications hub. Larry Clinton said it would not be easy, but it would be foolish to think it was not possible.
“Older technologies tend to be safer than newer technologies. Copper wire is more secure than fibre. And the problem is the interconnections. We don’t have nearly the degree of air-gapping that we once did.
“You can get into a weapons system and you won’t even know that system is compromised until you set it off and then it comes back and hits you in the face … the sort of attacks that were considered sophisticated six years ago are considered elementary now.”