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Update: NASA investigating hacker theft of sensitive documents

By Dan Verton
August 8, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- NASA cybercrime investigators are looking into the theft of militarily significant design documents pertaining to the next generation of reusable space vehicles.
The documents, which are restricted under current export laws from being shared with foreign nationals or governments and are also strictly controlled under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR), were obtained by Computerworld from a hacker who claims to be based in Latin America.
The documents were authored by contractors from The Boeing Co. and a joint venture between East Hartford, Conn.-based Pratt & Whitney and Sacramento, Calif.-based Aerojet. All of the vendors also labeled the documents "competition sensitive," and while it is not yet clear whether sensitive data on military and commercial technologies may have been compromised, defense and intelligence experts said the incident could have both national security and political ramifications.
Bob Jacobs, a spokesman for NASA, confirmed that the documents contain sensitive military information and should have been stored in a closed database. There is no information on how or from where the documents were stolen, and investigators couldn't confirm whether a hacking incident had taken place.
However, a hacker known only by the nickname RaFa, a former member of the now defunct World of Hell Hacker gang, uploaded to a Web site more than 43MB worth of documents, including a 15-part PowerPoint presentation that included detailed engineering drawings. The documents also included detailed mechanical design information on the COBRA space shuttle engine design program, and the risk reduction plan for the Boeing TA4 Advanced Checkout, Control & Maintenance System (ACCMS). The ACCMS is essentially the ground control system for the next generation of space shuttles.
NASA's 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program is part of the agency's long-term Space Launch Initiative, a multibillion-dollar effort to design a new, safer and more efficient space transportation architecture by 2005. The Defense Department is a key partner in the effort because of its interest in the RLV program's applicability to military satellite programs and future military space plane designs.
After Computerworld broke the story of the NASA hacking on its Web site Thursday afternoon, RaFa told the publication that he didn't understand the sensitivity of the information he had, and he acknowledged that he has shared the documents with hackers in France.
RaFa also showed Computerworld evidence of a second hack into systems at NASA's White Sands Test Facility. He produced dozens of user accounts and claimed to have used an anonymous FTP vulnerability to conduct both hacks.
The incident may not be an isolated one. When asked how easy or



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