NASA gave control of space station to laptop thief

In what might make a plot for a cheesy sci-fi flick, NASA gave control of the International Space Station to a laptop thief.

The agency’s inspector general told Congress that a laptop which contained algorithms which controlled the space station was stolen.

According to Discovery News, Inspector General Paul Martin did not go into detail about the theft, or explain what steps NASA took to avoid Dr Evil taking control of the Space Station and bringing it down on Manhattan.

In a written testimony before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee investigations panel he said it was just one of many security breaches in NASA which ranged from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organised criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives.

He said that some of these intrusions have affected thousands of NASA computers, caused significant disruption to mission operations, and resulted in the theft of export-controlled and otherwise sensitive data, with an estimated cost of more than $7 million.

Martin wrote that NASA needed to do more to improve agency-wide oversight of the full range of its IT assets.

More than 48 mobile computing devices went missing between April 2009 and April 2011 and some of it resulted in the unauthorised release of sensitive data including export-controlled, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and third-party intellectual property.

Other lost or stolen notebooks contained social security numbers and sensitive data on NASA’s Constellation and Orion programs.