NASA denies that hacking endangered shuttle

NASA denies that hacking endangered shuttle

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

A hacking incident that occurred three years ago at NASA has embroiled the space agency in a feud with British Broadcasting Corp.

Despite a recent BBC broadcast to the contrary, NASA's inspector general maintains that she never told a BBC reporter that the hacking put space shuttle astronauts' lives in danger.

'News reports that a computer hacker endangered the lives of space shuttle astronauts during a 1997 mission are wrong,' NASA said in a statement.

The agency denies the BBC report that said 'a hacker compromised NASA computers, endangering the lives of American astronauts.'

NASA IG Roberta Gross told NASA officials that she did not say astronauts' lives were threatened by the September 1997 cyberattack, NASA spokesman Dwayne Brown said.

NASA issued the statement in response to a report aired last week on the BBC program 'Panorama' that quoted Gross. Her statements also were reported by some American press organizations.

'We had an activity at a NASA center where a hacker was overloading our systems ' to such an extent that it interfered with communications between the NASA center, some medical communications and the astronauts aboard the shuttle,' Gross is quoted as saying.

Gross was unavailable for comment this week, and her office referred all calls to NASA's press office. Officials in the IG's Office said the hacking incident remains under investigation.

Message sent

The IG's Office found that 'the transmission of routine medical information was slightly delayed due to a computer hacker,' Brown said. 'However, the transmission was successfully completed.'

Communication between NASA and its astronauts was never compromised, he said. Hackers have never disrupted communications between the space agency and its shuttle astronauts, Brown said.

'The communication interruption occurred between internal, ground-based computer systems,' Brown said. 'There was a slight delay, a matter of seconds.'

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