Tokyo, we have a problem
Japanese space engineers have admitted one of their computers has been infected by a Trojan that may have leaked sensitive data, including system login information, to hackers.
Data exposed by the breach may have included emails, technical specifications and operational information as well as login credentials. The space agency has reset potentially exposed passwords while it continues to investigate the scope of the breach.
It’s often in today’s connected world that we hear of servers, networks, and individual computers hacked into or that have picked up some malware. Mostly it tends to deal with money, banks, and financial houses.
Ever so often it deals with cyber-espionage and attempts to steal technological and trade secrets. Years of research stolen over a few months or years, depending on how good the hack was. One has to ask ones’ self, who would benefit? Who needs to know this info and maybe doesn’t have it and sees stealing it as the quicker way to obtain it? What real world consequences could such actions have?
As for who would benefit, those not in the loop of the JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) would probably be the most likely candidates, Russia, China, even possibility the US or India.
China is on a learning path for space with an aggressive line towards getting there in a hurry. Much of China’s moves are headed in the direction of getting out of third world and into first world position, where it believes it should be.
The US had the technology to reach the moon in the 60’s. While it hasn’t lost it, it has lost the ability to return as a manned mission. The best we’ve managed with manned has been LEO since. No doubt we do well with robotics as that is space exploration on the cheap. What purpose to explore if we are not going there in person? While the US has spent a good bit of time in research, over time the leading edge the US enjoyed in advanced technology has now eroded as the government funding for the space program hasn’t been with a serious commitment. It’s sort of languished along without real goals for the future of manned exploration.
India has a fledgling space program, just starting to flex it’s muscles. It’s not yet really up to speed, but it’s coming along. Any data it could get without having to pay for it would certainly speed things along.
Russia collapsed and has returned to the space effort. So much so that while the US no longer has a reusable ship to send and retrieve the astronauts still on board the ISS nor to supply them with resources such as food and oxygen. We are now dependent on Russia to preform that task. Russia recently lost one of the resupply vessels intended for that mission. The second attempt was successful.
Each of these countries could use new research they didn’t have to pay for. There are probably a handful of other countries that would like to know as well, considering their own space programs.
Given that these programs are launching tons of materials into orbit, what happens when undetected malware inserts itself into the launch sequence or into the operational software of the rocket itself? Money is one thing but now we are talking lives which takes malware to a whole different level. If one of these rockets failed to make orbit, with a malfunction along the way, where does it come down at?
The US’s long range satellite probes going out to different planets, especially the distant ones of the outer system, won’t receive enough sunlight to power them by means of solar. Probes like the Voyager twins went out 30 years ago. There’s not enough sunlight at the fringes of the solar system on the edge of it’s boundary to power it. They used nuclear for that.
One of the big fears at the time was the blowing up of the rocket and scattering radioactivity through the atmosphere. Supposedly that has been address with a design reportedly that would survive reentry intact. What if it blows up? There are several countries that wouldn’t mind embarrassing the space efforts with such. In today’s infections of malware, that’s not out of consideration.
Malware has grown along with the computer age but it hasn’t reached the end of it’s potential. That should be a worrying problem for anyone.