NASA Faced Cybersecurity Threats During Government Shutdown

NASA Faced Cybersecurity Threats During Government Shutdown

According to Renee Wynn, NASA’s Chief Information Officer, NASA’s Security Operations Center (SOC) continued to operate 24/7 during the government shutdown, fighting cybersecurity threats.

NASA’s cybersecurity was threatened during the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, NASA officials said at a post-shutdown town hall meeting Jan. 29.

"NASA is one of the — it is the most attacked agency in the federal government when it comes to cybersecurity," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during the town hall, Space.com reported.

"Across the world there are governments that are very, very interested in what we're doing, because technology ultimately determines the balance of power on Earth, and we are doing things that are very, very advanced technology," Bridenstine said. "There are people who would love to use it not for the benefit of humankind, but for their own power purposes."

According to Renee Wynn, NASA’s Chief Information Officer, NASA’s Security Operations Center (SOC) continued to operate 24/7 during the government shutdown, fighting cybersecurity threats.

"We do have to protect your data, and we have to protect the integrity of all the data that NASA gets and shares," Wynn said. "That is our main driver in cybersecurity. [It's] you and our name, our reputation — which is through our data and the science, engineering, mathematics and technology discovered through that."

The SOC researched incidents during the shutdown and reported that, on average, NASA faced about one cybersecurity threat per day, Wynn said. She said that cybersecurity threats aren’t always hackers, but that NASA employees losing their government phone also counts as a threat to security.

“Cybersecurity in the most part was fully functional” during the shutdown thanks to the SOC, Wynn said. "I say 'in the most part,' because we also had to think about funds conservation, and so while cybersecurity is important, there are things that are more important than other things."

Some NASA websites had to be taken down during the shutdown because their website certificates had expired, for example. Websites that were no longer deemed secure could be vulnerable to hacking and pose a risk to NASA data. According to Wynn, NASA took down at least 35 sites due to security certification expiration during the shutdown.

Despite some cybersecurity concerns during the shutdown, Wynn said that the most recent Department of Homeland Security scan showed that NASA “had no external-facing, critical issues. In my opinion, for now, we got through this really well,” she said.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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