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Another NASA Hacker Indicted

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the white-hats-provide-poor-cover dept.

Security 164

eldavojohn writes "Earlier this year, UK citizen & hacker of NASA Gary KcKinnon was extradited to the United States (also interviewed twice). Now, another hacker has been indicted for hacking more than 150 U.S. government computers. Victor Faur, 26, of Arad, Romania claims to have led a 'white hat team' to expose flaws in U.S. government computers. It seems everyone else has been busy hacking into government systems while I've been wasting my time playing Warcraft." From the article: "The breached computers were used to collect and process data from spacecraft. Because of the break-ins, systems had to be rebuilt and scientists and engineers had to manually communicate with spacecraft, resulting in $1.36 million in losses for NASA and nearly $100,000 in losses for the Energy Department and the Navy, prosecutors said. Several suspected NASA hackers have been dealing with law enforcement recently."

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Teh Interwebs (5, Insightful)

foldingstock (945985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094124)

If a system is that important, and only has a single task, such as communicating with a spacecraft, why would it be accessible from outside sources?

Re:Teh Interwebs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094182)

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# eep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferenc# eep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferenc

# eep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferenc# eep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferenc

Re:Teh Interwebs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094226)

Damnit Jim, I'm a doctor (in aerospace engineering), not a computer scientist.

Re:Teh Interwebs (5, Funny)

The Zon (969911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094260)

It's NASA 2.0. They're looking for input from the community.

Re:Teh Interwebs (3, Funny)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094436)

so that the people manning the system can check their Gmail in between shuttle launches.

Possibly Just Social 'Hacking' (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094472)

If a system is that important, and only has a single task, such as communicating with a spacecraft, why would it be accessible from outside sources?
Well, with the case of McKinnon, I don't think he ever actually 'hacked' into something by way of computer. I think that he was more so a social engineer than a hacker but they call him a hacker because it has a rogue/negative sound to it. Anyway, I don't know what the facts are in the Romanian's case, only reported it to Slashdot.

Keep in mind that these guys did 150 computers, the NASA problems were only NASA's reports of their 'hacking.' It could be that he was part of a team that was trying everything to get at government computers (pretexting/social engineering, hacking, you name it) and that this guy was the only one who actually physically went to a facility and illegally accessed data. I think if you're smart enough to hack into a NASA system, you should be smart enough to cover your tracks--so maybe this guy just waltzed in and presented real ID but just lied about who he was or representing?

So before you call NASA stupid for leaving those computers connected to the internet, I would wait until you find out what they're actually accusing this guy of--it could be another case as with Gary McKinnon where the person wasn't some steller computer genius, he was just really good at gaining trust from people and lying his way into facilities.

Re:Possibly Just Social 'Hacking' (1)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094726)

Errrm.. Garry McKinnon didn't do that.

Re:Teh Interwebs (4, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094480)

If a system is that important, and only has a single task, such as communicating with a spacecraft, why would it be accessible from outside sources?

Indeed. The article is pretty thin on what was actually compromised and what "manually communicating with spacecraft" really meant. Rule number 1 with mission critical systems at NASA (I work for them, but not at the locations attacked) is that they are *completely* walled off from the outside.

Now, there are some mission associated systems that are accessible from the internet which are storing spacecraft data. Here's one that has datasets from the acceleration system on the International Space Station:

http://pims.grc.nasa.gov/html/ISSAccelerationArchi ve.html [nasa.gov]

It's out there because that's the easiest way to get the data to researchers, many of whom are at universities around the world. I suppose if that server ended up hacked, it would hit the news as "Hacker brings down Space Station support system!". Sounds bad, but it's not like you can actually gain control of the spacecraft. I suspect the machines affected were used for this sort of purpose.

Re:Teh Interwebs (5, Interesting)

wximagery95 (993253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094936)

I work for Lockheed Martin on a classified contract for the USAF and our entire classified network infrastructure is not accessible from the outside (no VPN, no dial in, no nothing). It's a completely isolated AND encrypted network. It's a pain to work on/maintain, but it's the only way you can guarantee no one other than an insider can compromise the system by manually copying data to removable media and taking it with them. Leaked information at this level could causer serious harm to nation's national security.

When I read articles like this one, it makes me wonder what classification of information was compromised. I highly doubt it's DoD Secret or greater and if it's less than that, the damage caused by this information landing in the wrong hands is probably minimal, though disconcerting.

Re:Teh Interwebs (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095046)

When I read articles like this one, it makes me wonder what classification of information was compromised. I highly doubt it's DoD Secret or greater and if it's less than that, the damage caused by this information landing in the wrong hands is probably minimal, though disconcerting.
So quite possibly, its just more fud from an anti-US government "news-service" (I think it was zdnet)...

Red Nets (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095342)

Yep, having set up a red net, the very FIRST thing you do is pull the plug on the internet.

Chuckle, chuckle... (3, Funny)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096066)

I've worked both private and public research before, the reason that you can keep your network private, is because most privateers can simply buy government sponsored research that suits them, have it paid for by the government, and later have the results they bought "classified" as "top secret" or "of national security interest".

I've been there, i've seen that, done that, got tshirt and beer mug... They're just crucifying kids, because inquisitive minds, for better or worse, when coupled with direct action (they didn't wait for 20 years for anyone's approval) scare the crap out of the dictatorial regimes of the world, our dear old US included.

"In a democracy, you vote first, and take orders later, in a dictatorship, they spare you the trouble of choosing your tyrants and th wasted energy used up voting." ~unknown

When I was there... (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094528)

...it was standard practice to put .rhosts files on all of the servers and desktops, so that nobody needed to log in more than once and so that shell scripts on remote sites could transfer data. Frankly, I'm less surprised that people have broken into mission-critical systems than in the fact that only three (the two mentioned and a file swapper) have ever been caught. I witnessed truly godawful ignorance on security issues, not least from those in charge of IT security. From the annual reviews of security, it would seem that things have improved and are now merely very sickeningly bad, but I cannot find any reason to excuse ANY weakness in a computer network (a) run by very bright people, and (b) containing a mix of extremely sensitive and/or utterly unique data.


That these three have been caught is almost incidental, when you consider the probability that there are possibly several orders of magnitude more people who have not. Those who have been were not doing anything significant, except insofar that it was possible to do at all. Nobody - least of all NASA - knows what those who have NOT been caught are doing. We're constantly being reminded about how dangerous the world is and how important it is to track kitty litter as it comes into the country. Assuming the claims have any merit at all, I'd be just a little more concerned with what the Government itself is openly, passively and willingly handing out to whoever asks out there in that "dangerous world". If it's so bloody dangerous, shouldn't the Government be doing at least the very basic minimum?


(If, however, the real reason is that NASA isn't doing anything mission-critical and that all information it has has no value whatsoever, then just shut the bloody thing down and put the money into education. I think NASA is worthwhile, but then I'd have kicked their security into shape within the first five minutes of having the authority to do so. They aren't, so they clearly don't.)

Re:When I was there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094668)

you forgot to mention global espionage: china for sure, india and israel...probably...russia...probably...

Re:When I was there... (0, Flamebait)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095618)

Good point. Boeing's aircraft research (such as the blended wing body they worked on with NASA in the 1990s) was on open servers. DES encrypted, sure, but even back then, nobody took single-pass DES seriously as an encryption system. Undoubtedly work on scramjets, rocket fuels, etc, were also on public systems with insignificant protection. So far, there is no evidence of India, Pakistan or North Korea having hypersonic intercontinental cruise missiles, which tells me that those nations too unstable to be safe with such technology were also too stupid to obtain it from open technological repositories and that those who had the necessary wits to break in also had the necessary wits to not hand over any such information they found to such people.


As a general rule, stupidity makes for a rather unreliable and unpredictable defense, even if you can practically guarantee an endless supply of it when it comes to politicians and military intelligence.


There are other considerations. How much of Iranian nuke technology was simply FTPed off US Department of Energy servers? Mr Nuke from Pakistan may well have obtained a fair amount of his knowledge by such means, as reports repeatedly indicate he worked from old US designs. So few departments have IT security scores worth a damn and it simply isn't safe to assume that hostile nations or even hostile organizations have voluntarily chosen to "do the decent thing" and not kick the US in the goolies. Again, though, we simply don't know the detection rate. It seems to be extremely low, if NASA is anything to go by, and it was reported a while back that the DoD mis-identified a scan by a US-based team of crackers as being overseas because they used nmap's spoof system.


Does this mean we should be all paranoid? Probably not. This level of sheer incompetence on the parts of all parties has gone on for many years, if not decades. It probably means that there should be better funding in IT security and a good, old-fashioned purge of delinquents in positions of authority, but that's not going to happen.

Re:When I was there... (5, Interesting)

dgm3574 (153548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095080)

I was there too. I worked as a contractor at JPL for a little over 3 years, on various projects, building what I'll call "mission support software" in the interest of brevity.

What I learned after being there long enough (and it took me a long time) is that one of the main reasons computer security at NASA sucks is funding; or really a lack of it. Bear with me as I explain...

The IT security people (and really, IT people in general) are considered about the lowest form of life at places like JPL, because we are ancillary to the mission. We are overhead. Our work, while helpful, is not viewed as "critical" to mission success. This is an unfortunate and incorrect perception. Try launching anything remotely complex without a computer or a network to support the mission and see what happens.

Most of the science people at NASA just want to get their work done, get the mission to fly, get their science data back, and do their analyses. The problem is that they don't value network/computer security like IT people do. They just have their narrow view of their narrow area of responsibility. This tunnel vision prevents them from caring about security until Something Bad happens and they lose mission data. Then get ready to hear the screaming. IT people get fired. Heads roll. Memos are written. Policies changed.

And then everything goes back to exactly how it was, again.

Underlying all of this is the fact that IT, because of how it is perceived, is poorly funded and therefore understaffed. Without enough staff, they can't respond to all the incoming requests for IT work.

Remember those science people? They will not accept anything getting in their way, least of all some sorry excuses from the IT department about how they can't get to your server today.

Consider this conversation:

IT: "I'm sorry, we're backlogged right now and I won't be able to do that for you today."

ScienceGuy: "No, you'll fix my server today or the lab director (basically the president of JPL) will hear about it and you'll lose your job because I won't be able to talk to the Mars rover today."

IT: "Uh, ok. You're the 5th person to threaten my job today. Looks like I'm getting fired. What would you like me to do?"

ScienceGuy: "Just give me the root password and I'll do it myself. I use a Mac with OS X, so I am a Unix Genius."

IT: "Sure thing. The password is p198*#&$S(s. Have a great day!"

ScienceGuy: "Thanks for being a team player! I'll make sure to write a memo to your boss about how you helped us."

And so, in order to "stay out of the way" of the science people, the IT people have to give away a lot of system administration duties. For this they are rewarded.

Now, remember that those science people don't care about security? And they don't let anything get in their way? Think they'll do goofy things to make their server or data more easily accessible? You bet they will, regardless of the policies. And you know what? That is why places like JPL are so successful. The science people are dedicated, and will generally stop at nothing to make their missions successful. Most of them are what I would call True Believers. They really are there because they believe in what they do. Unfortunately, they often work within very limited budgets, and within the institutional limitations like limited funding for IT staff.

Re:When I was there... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095640)

I completely agree with you, but I'd have thought JPL would have been interested in strange life-forms...


(Seriously, what you are describing I can vouch for 100% at LARC.)

Re:Teh Interwebs (1)

gwayne (306174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094642)

Critical systems are firewalled off or completely isolated. Some of the systems on our contract got hacked. Some of the targeted NASA systems that are publicly accessible house engineering drawings and such that must be available to a variety of people and places. Incidently, most of the hacked systems were running Windows.

Re:Teh Interwebs (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095116)

You forgot the satellites have bluetooth and Wireless-G adapter! Our satellite overloads [slashdot.org] have to have some way to get pirated music.

$1.3? $100k?! (4, Insightful)

elysiuan (762931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094132)

Why bring the monetary damage (I'd be interested to see how it was calculated in the first place) into the equation at all? These are trifling amounts of money on the scale of government spending. 100k from the Navy and US Department of Energy? Yeah I'm sure they're feeling the 'loss'. Hacking into government systems should be enough of a crime without throwing this wacky money figure into it all.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (3, Informative)

h2g2bob (948006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094298)

For extradition, there's often a minimum amount of damage (in $$$) that is required before someone can be extradited.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (2, Insightful)

Warg! The Orcs!! (957405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096024)

The term "damage" is quite loose here. NASA can claim that $1.3m of damage was caused whereas I would have described it as "$1.3m was spent plugging the holes that shouldn't have been there in the first place". In this case the 'hacker' isn't causing any damage at all, he's merely exposing a badly designed system. Any damage is the fault of the original progammers.

Hacker Crackdown (4, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094378)

Read Bruce Sterling's "The Hacker Crackdown" for how these spurious figures are calculated. The examples are old but so is the mindset behind this. The author has put the entire book online.

Project Gutenberg (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095574)

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094524)

Because as someone that ran a small IT department on governmental $$$s, I can safely say that just because my organization might have half a billion dollars a year, my area gets practically nothing.

The money is allocated years before I ever see it. I've had one break-in with a zero-day exploit that I had no previous knowledge about, and caught hell from my boss and his boss and her boss and everyone else up the line and ended up spending $30k to fix the problems (because it was zero-day, and the damage covered up by the time there was a scanner for this, we had to scrap data that COULD HAVE BEEN altered in the time...we only found out because a few file droppings directly related to the hack were found two months later, and those two months had to be deleted).

This is direct money that was spent. No bullshit of dollar amounts. New equipment to firewall the stuff from the outside (which ironically, the firewall that my organization recommended was exploited all over the organization a few months later)...reconstruction of previous work...consulting fees to see if potentially identifyable data was grabbed (nope, that part was encrypted and the key, as per org guidelines, kept elsewhere offline -- only our researchers have access to this, and its run offline when needed...it was a few years ago since we last needed to access identifyable data).

All in all, my department was in the hole for a couple of years. Had to take on private consulting gigs to pay it off (yes, the gov't does consulting...and sometimes for a profit -- its the entity that has to be zero-sum at the end of the year, not individual projects...we just can't overtly compete with private industries, but if others come to us and ask for our help...)

Luckily, my pet projects were running on OS X server...had bought the box intending to throw linux on it, but never got around to it. It was our hosted projects that our sister department were using and there were no ifs ands or buts about running anything but Windows. It was out of my hands.

So yes, a lot of us are entirely fucked monetarily when some asshole breaks into our machines, regardless if we work for the government or not.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (1)

Ninjaesque One (902204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094640)

But the thing is, govermental IT is different, especially military IT. They spend $100,000 on maintenance for 50-year-old carriers that have about the same chance as a snowball in hell's surviving to be returned into active service. The military probably spends $100,000 yearly on landscaping for Arlington Nat'l Cemetery.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095064)

You are underestimating by an order of magnitude. In the FY 2000 budget for grounds keeping at the national cemetary cost $1.75 million and that doesn't count the $698,000 for tree and shrub maintenance (http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/decay02.htm). I am sure it has only gone up since then. I had a hard time finding more recent numbers with such a good break down on grounds keeping cost.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095330)

"But the thing is, govermental IT is different, especially military IT."

Again, I work for the government. I know what it says on my check.

I am a researcher, but got hired on for a good part because of my computer skills. We didn't have official IT support because of my department's budget, so I got to be research and IT manager. It was nice, it meant that I was officially above researchers that came in before I did, even though I was technically low man in the lab.

But this is how government projects work. Every department has a budget. We are allocated this months / years ahead of time. I was told when I started on that the IT components were being phased out. This was ten years ago. It was going to go to another department. But that didn't happen...I actually took on more responsibilities before this happened.

Out budget is such that just because there is a half billion dollars in our division's budget, that doesn't mean that they can absorb even a few grand in from a single deparment. That 100l on landscaping doesn't help me...thats in another division, another section of the world, and if we were to lose a million $$$s, there is no way that the cemetery boys are thinking of giving it up (mainly because they are probably stretched thin as it is as well -- at least in comparison to what the public expects out of them).

Please read before dismissing.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094662)

hey, have a heart! the Navy could have used that $100K to buy a hammer and maybe even a few nails.

Re:$1.3? $100k?! (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094856)

Personally I'd rather see that money put towards fixing the Hubble telescope or extending the mars rover mission than fixing damage that some hacker did.

Paraphrased for Joe Six Pack (2, Insightful)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095296)

Your Honor:

This kid broke into my house and stole a six pack of beer, but now I don't feel safe in my house anymore, so for actual damages I am including the cost of a house in a lower crime area with private security guards. The kid's dad originally bought the beer so I didn't include the cost of the beer in the total.

Think about... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094142)

...all that money spent on server security...

Prove it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094150)

Because of the break-ins, systems had to be rebuilt and scientists and engineers had to manually communicate with spacecraft, resulting in $1.36 million in losses for NASA and nearly $100,000 in losses for the Energy Department and the Navy, prosecutors said.

I smell a false inflation of damages, much like Motorola in the Mitnick case.

Re:Prove it (5, Funny)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094200)

What are you talking about? NASA had to hire hundreds of people to write the communications out by hand in binary and send over 200,000 pigeons to deliver it to the spacecraft (where they had significant issues with packet loss).
Those numbers are extremely conservative!

Re:Prove it (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094780)

Well, it was the number of pigeon spacesuits and oxygen tanks for those suits that actually caused the financial damage. It wasn't the pigeons and binary conversions themselves!

Re:Prove it (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095190)

Those numbers are extremely conservative!
That's exactly why the can't be trusted. ;)

shameless WKRP spoof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095490)

I swear, I thought pigeons could re-enter....

Re:Prove it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094250)

I would argue that there are no financial damages due to unauthorized break ins. If someone tells them how to infiltrate their systems without actually doing it. They would have to assume it's already been done and take exactly the same steps. Don't get me wrong, it's still wrong but losses should not be a factor if nothing was done except breach security.

Re:Prove it (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094892)

I would argue that there are no financial damages due to unauthorized break ins. If someone tells them how to infiltrate their systems without actually doing it. They would have to assume it's already been done and take exactly the same steps.

The Law for Geeks 101: You break it, you buy it.

Re:Prove it (1)

madsheep (984404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094616)

There is something you have to understand about how these numbers are calculated. If one system is compromised (and remember there were hundreds), it can take hours of investigation by multiple people. Then there may be computer imaging, other forensics work, and ultimately reinstallation of the machine. This may go across multiple departments, contractors, and divisions within a single organization. So if we have 6 people involved in one incident and they each spent 6 hours on it. That's 36 hours worth of effort/work. Well, how much time is that worth (not calculating any loss caused by other unproductivity from downtime)?


Varying rates:

$50 x 36 = $1800
$100 x 36 = $3600
$150 x 36 = $5400


Yes these are arbitrary numbes and hours but think about systems that caused e-mail loss and other problems. This is tons of downtime, tons of problems, and tons of work for various individuals. That costs money.

Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (5, Interesting)

madsheep (984404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094156)

If you ever went to the websites that this "Victor" character hosted their "hacks" on you could see what kind of geniuses they were. The "White Hat Team" as they called themselves were/are a bunch of clueless script kiddies. They would host their website (www.whitehat.ro) on hacked servers, so it would frequently go down and be reuploaded elsewhere. They flat out told you this on their ugly poorly designed webpage. On top of that they had tons of screen shots of various systems they compromised accounts on (and sometimes gained root). It was fully of typos, bad commands, and just other terribly embarassing things.
Honestly, I feel bad for this guy (and probably the rest of the team when they're indicted), not because he's been arrested, but because he is such a moron! Hackers... not at all. White hats.. nope (about as smart as the Ironic on). Morons..yes.

Re:Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094188)

> It was fully of typos, bad commands, and just other terribly embarassing things.

Sounds like he has a bright future right here, on slashdot.

Re:Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094834)

HAHAHAHA some mod with poor spelling (probably functionally illiterate like half of you who complain about how much you hate "grammar nazis") left his sense of humor at home. This is obviously a joke, and it's a funny joke because it's true. Fuckin' get over it.

Re:Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (1)

thripper (965380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094796)

You are right. Script kiddies ... I mean, come on ! You crack 150+ computers and fail to hide your tracks. I live in Romania and i know there lots of ways to get online without revealing your location or identity.

Re:Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094890)

The "White Hat Team" as they called themselves were/are a bunch of clueless script kiddies.

Yes, and can you say Deep Do Do?

Re:Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (2, Informative)

ms139us (723585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095268)

It was fully of typos

Oh, teh inory!

Re:Not very bright and certainl not "white hat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095324)

Did you stop to consider that because someone speaks/writes broken English, doesn't mean they are stupid, or a moron. I'll bet your a 3133t h4x0r right?

get a life... At least this guy was doing something other than being a critical little bitch on /.

'hackers' (1)

hadhad69 (1003533) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094168)

The hackers didn't actually break in though, they merely sandboxed a comp in an underground bunker in new mexico...

Manually Communicate? (4, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094190)

Because of the break-ins, systems had to be rebuilt and scientists and engineers had to manually communicate with spacecraft
I can just see one of the guys standing outside NASA JSC yelling up at the sky, "How Ya'll doin up there?"

Re:Manually Communicate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094470)

I can just see one of the guys standing outside NASA JSC yelling up at the sky, "How Ya'll doin up there?"


Oh come on, they didn't do that. That would just be silly.

They used smoke signals. EO-1 noted them, interpreted them, and relayed them on to the affected satellites.

I guess he joins the ranks of the 1337 h4x0rz (0, Redundant)

chimachima (869508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094216)

I guess we'll never find out about the people who have successfully hacked into NASA and avoided legal indictment to tell the tale of how they did it. It's kind of like the winning the Olympic Gold Medal of Hackerdom no? Hack into NASA, get indicted by the FBI, you win teh intarweb.

Eh, Government oversight... (0, Redundant)

rijit (992822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094266)

The government has a way of inflating values on damage like this to make the charges more than what they should be. I think punishment is definitely called for and the investigation should add up damages but needs to do so in a manner that makes them more responsible for their findings. Instead of tossing out a "guess-timate", they should not give a quote without all the facts present.

Re:Eh, Government oversight... (1, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094370)

The government has a way of inflating values on damage like this to make the charges more than what they should be.

Also gives 'em something to tack onto next year's budget request...

rj

Re:Eh, Government oversight... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094506)

The government has a way of inflating values on damage like this to make the charges more than what they should be

Not to mention they typically charge for "fixing the hole" when they should have fixed the hole on their own dime in advance.

Where did you get "guesstimate" ? (3, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094690)

Instead of tossing out a "guess-timate", they should not give a quote without all the facts present.

If the government claims $1.36M + $100k in damage done, they have to submit evidence to the court as to why and how they came up with those numbers. Much of the reason cases involving economic damage take so long is that the discovery phase of the trial, when all of this information gets unearthed and shared among plaintiff and defendant, takes a lot of depositions, requests for information, requests for further information, and so on. You'd better believe that *if* the US successfully gets him extradited to the United States, his attorney will be issuing subpoenas for proof of those numbers. If the government can't substantiate them, it won't fly with the judge.

Re:Where did you get "guesstimate" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095176)

You'd better believe that *if* the US successfully gets him extradited to the United States, his attorney will be issuing subpoenas for proof of those numbers. If the government can't substantiate them, it won't fly with the judge.

You assume the defendant will be provided with a competent attorney.

Re:Where did you get "guesstimate" ? (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096084)

You assume the defendant will be provided with a competent attorney.

Just because someone is extradited doesn't mean they can't obtain their own counsel. Even if they were given court-appointed counsel, you'd have to try pretty damned hard to find an attorney that had passed the bar in any state in the Union who would be so incompetent as to not seek evidence during discovery. If he or she were to not take advantage of discovery, they would very likely later be sued for malpractice. The losing party wouldn't even have to know anything about legal malpractice suits. There are lawyers who specialize in legal malpractice, and they'd likely find the losing party and inform him of his right to sue the original lawyer.

It's a shark-eat-shark world.

Re:Where did you get "guesstimate" ? (1)

rijit (992822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095796)

No idea where I got guesstimate, just seems to me that the damage amounts in all recent hacking cases are higher than would be expected for someone invading a network and printing some rude message. After years of hearing reports of the government paying outrageous sums for contract work it would only be a slight stretch to apply the same overinflated amounts to "virtual damage" done to government networks to try and build high dollar cases against hackers to get a better chance at extradition.

damn that warcraft :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094292)

was it 2, 3 or wow?

This is the result (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094304)

of glorifying such stunts and of the FBI refusing to even consider something for which there isn't at least $25,000 worth of damages.

Glorifying such fool pranks I would consider the same as glorifying cutting brake lines on school buses. Really quite funny when the bus driver tries to stop. How could it possibly hurt anyone because any bus driver is going to notice what is wrong long before the first child sets foot on the bus. Right. Keep thinking that way. Of course, what these folks did was just for fun and it didn't really hurt anyone, now did it?

The FBI putting a dollar floor on damages ensures that nothing is ever done when these kids do something minor. Rather than someone identifying them and giving them a warning nothing happens. When you were 16 if you were never, ever caught shoplifting would your escapades advance to other, higher-price objects? Of course. Which is exactly what is happening here.

ISPs refuse to identify or even forward communication from people complaining about attacks. So your only choices are to either wait for $25,000 in damages to bring in the FBI (who is the only possible law enforcement agency with jursidiction) or you decide to spend lots of your own money to file suit against some 16 year olds to "teach them a lesson". Of course, you end up with the "lesson" because they will be laughing at you when you find out you can't sue a kid in Romainia.

Re:This is the result (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094392)

No. This is the result of bad security. If they hadn't done it, some mafia somewhere probably would have. If you are in the government and have a car plainly marked as such, do you leave it on the side of the road with no one attending it, and wait for someone to plant a bomb in it or cut the brakes? I highly doubt it. Big targets need security, if they want to remain secure.

Re:This is the result (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096260)

When you were 16 if you were never, ever caught shoplifting would your escapades advance to other, higher-price objects? Of course.
Rubbish. You're applying your own ethics to others, and people aren't all the same as you.

Manually communicate with spacecraft ? (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094380)

Is that like giving hand signals to V'ger?

Re:Manually communicate with spacecraft ? (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095150)

Maybe a string-and-cup backup system?

I'm not sayin'... (5, Interesting)

lazycam (1007621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094452)

I agree with hacking into US goverment machines. I have no plans of spending the next 10 years in a federal prison or Gitmo for that matter. But, who is then responsible for testing the security of our critical systems? Is that no our duty as programming and security professionals? Please explain to me why such machines were connected to the internet again? That's like walking outside the door in the morning without a pair of pants.

Re:I'm not sayin'... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094966)

But, who is then responsible for testing the security of our critical systems?

The point is, not some random hacker from the UK or Romania who calls themselves a "security researcher". Honestly, this guys story is lame.

Re:I'm not sayin'... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095130)

I'd hope the these guys actually broke into a machine in the DMZ serving data over the internet and used a shell on that one to penetrate deeper into the network.

Re:I'm not sayin'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095480)

Is that no our duty as programming and security professionals?

No.

Please, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094490)

Tell me they didn't get into the Gibsons?

Hacker? (0, Redundant)

radu.stanca (857153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094496)

I`m from Arad, and I know a friend who knows a friend who knew that guy(no joke). He used hang aroung irc channels(nickname SirVic) ddosing anything he could, he probably had no ideea he hacked NASA, ./scan, install rootkit and psybnc, and that`s it, just a stupid script kiddie cracker.

Sadly, almost any news involving Romania are mostly about phishers, skiddies and crackers...I hate my country.

Re:Hacker? (0, Flamebait)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094774)

"Sadly, almost any news involving Romania are mostly about phishers, skiddies and crackers..."

So, what happened to the gypsies? They left?

Re:Hacker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094978)

What kind of racist piece of shit are you?

Re:Hacker? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095182)

A psycho with a funny mustache named Hitler, killed them

Re:Hacker? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095166)

I met your Olympic boxing coach and your boxers at Atlanta 96 and they earned a lot of my respect; don't hate your country, it's been through more than most could endure several times over. Things will get better.

Re:Hacker? (1)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095298)

So if you walk outside in the morning without your pants on, it's fine for someone to throw acid on your private parts because it shows that you're an idiot for not wearing pants? Life is risky from the first second to the last second. Is your life's goal to be encased in carbonite so nothing can get at you? Cause I hear your eyes don't work for shit after they unfreeze you, which will mean you'll be even MORE vulnerable!

They can manually communicate with a spacecraft? (4, Funny)

DeQueue (112880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094624)

Because of the break-ins, systems had to be rebuilt and scientists and engineers had to manually communicate with spacecraft...

Did they use an a hitchhiker style Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic electronic thumb or just a towel?
Dequeue
"Insert witty .sig here"

What i really think is that - (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094648)

they are frightened to death of them that they might reveal information that nasa and co are able to hide from the public by getting scientists sign dreadful national security oath papers.

The money lost at NASA (1)

joe_schmoe_the_geek (1000927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094698)

NASA = $18 billion in corporate welfare for aerospace companies and bureaucrats.  A few million more is pocket change.  Personally, I'd rather see the FBI spend its time catching terrorists and spies and leave the chasing of Romanian teenage script kiddies to someone else.

Re:The money lost at NASA (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095120)

A few million more is pocket change ... leave the chasing of Romanian teenage script kiddies to someone else.

OK, so if some stupid punk kids decided to torch a NASA training jet worth a few $million, that wouldn't be worth the trouble, either? Wasting NASA's resources (my tax dollars) on the physical destruction of property, or the collosal waste of human energy hunting down pointless script kiddie vandalism is just as bad. And just as worth runing down.

I'm a "White Hat" hacker too (3, Funny)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094734)

I just hacked my way into the Bank of America, just to test its security. The fact that I managed to dowload millions of user account files with sensitive personal information I could sell to unscrupulous characters is *totally* beside the point of my wholly beneficial White Hat Crusade.

Next week, I'll be mounting a White Hat Mission to test the security of Apple's online ordering system. If a few dozen dual core machines find their way to my house, it's a sacrifice I must make for the greater good!

US Government is a joke (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094750)

Pfft, hacking government systems are the SS/Evis - 2 button "I Win" rogues of hacking.

Everyone knows all you do is type in login: admin and no password to get root access to every branch of the US.

If you want a real challenge, try identifying and hacking other hackers computers.

Honestly the US is a joke - my boss asked me to do background checks on new employees to check for criminal records (doesn't bar employment) and red flags, so I logged into the NSA's highest admin (again, l/p = admin/(blank)). Ok so that's not true, they probably changed the password to "God" since then.

Claims to have led a 'white hat team' to expose... (1)

Thaidog (235587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094836)

I can believe that. You'd almost certainly look like a black hat trying to describe flaws in such systems.

its hardly Hackling when the PW is merely 'joe' ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17094874)

its hardly Hackling when the PW is merely 'joe' !

true story, an admin on a FL NASA mainframe was merely 'joe'

i hardly call guessing THAT as hacking!!!

nasa should be shut down.

its incompetent deadwood oldtimers and young minority forced hire ethnics and forced-hire females. Universally all poorly skilled with high tech in my opinion.

(I am telling the truth)

Re:its hardly Hackling when the PW is merely 'joe' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17095236)

> Universally all poorly skilled with high tech in my opinion.

Apologies to Ron White, but could you please tell me how that is true if they are fairly consistently able to launch a manned vehicle into outer-fucking-space? And land it back on Earth, too? I hear about NASA's supposed incompetence from sideliners like you all the time. Explain how they still manage to launch shuttles and Mars missions.

Do you really think implementing a good password policy requires the same level of skill as hurling a hundred tons into the air on the back of a massive controlled explosion?

Maybe the real engineers and scientists have more important things to worry about. Maybe a real software engineer needs to make secure authentication/authorization easy enough so that end users will actually care to use it properly. Now, there's a problem that requires real skill, but you're obviously just going to sit back and laugh at your flawed perception of their incompetence instead of designing a solution.

Rocket scientists should only have to worry about rocket science, and their efforts will tend to lean towards rockets, not passwords. While you sit around trying to secure your Gentoo box with the latest ebuild in the portage snapshot that enables WHIRLPOOL password hashing, there are people at NASA thinking about how to defend Earth from asteroid impacts. The IT department should worry about their user authentication methods, not them.

Maybe NASA needs a new IT department, but I think we can keep the rest of the departments for now.

So what's being done... (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094930)

... about the government's chronic security problems? I don't care whether or not what this guy did was illegal; He shouldn't have been able to do that much damage. Was this attack not in the government's list of screenplays?

Say it with me again folks... (4, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17094956)

...if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. And "if you can't pay the fine, don't do the crime" works too.

Most people seem to be bringing up the lack of security on NASA systems or the inflated monetary loss estimates. Totally irrelevant. If I secure my house with a 100 year old skeleton key lock and also place a big sign in front of the house that says "Door key under welcome mat, $100,000 US in freezer behind ground beef", I may be stupid but that still does not give you the right to enter my house without my permission.

Re:Say it with me again folks... (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095132)

big sign in front of the house that says "Door key under welcome mat, $100,000 US in freezer behind ground beef"
Sounds like an invitation to me.

Re:Say it with me again folks... (0)

eyeb1 (522766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095242)

you can quite clichés .. good for you ..

so if i can pay the fine it's OK .. to do the crime .. ie. crime is OK for the rich .. but not for the poor?

of course .. it is the act of creating and passing laws .. that produces the crime and the criminal .. not the acts ..

you have been raised to believe that you have some right to your possessions .. the only real "rights" i or anyone else have .. are those that i can enforce for myself .. if you are not present to protect your stuff .. you have no right to it .. except by the notion .. that you think you do ..

which the fact of someone being able to gain possession of "your" stuff .. is in fact a proof that it was not really your stuff .. "possession is 9/10th of the law" another good old cliché ..

another old cliché is that "might is right" .. and it is one the US currently likes to live by .. the childish notion that because there is a law making it illegal .. that there is some kind of moral or ethic issue involved .. is just a product of mass brainwashing .. ie. public education ..

it's just a convenient fact that if i claim to give people rights .. and they believe it .. i have created a job for myself of making and enforcing said rights .. it works very well for the current wealth ruling class .. the modern kings and their court .. but it is beginning to break down under the weight of the lie .. it really is time for humankind to WAKE UP and taste reality .. though it is not likely to happen anytime soon ..

might is right is one of the relative truths of the physical universe .. numbers rule .. 300+ million people are about to find out that really have few if any rights .. to there ideas and or their stuff ..

and that anyone living under the threat of overwhelming force .. by governments .. by the military .. by the police .. or other persons .. is really in fact noting but a prisoner of WAR and a slave .. like it or not ..

WAR=We Are Right ..

Re:Say it with me again folks... (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095908)

Come on my property while I'm home and threaten me or that property and I'll allow you to possess 10/10ths of a number of pieces of lead, all flying at high speed. And in my state, gun ownership os legal. And so is deadly force if you feel yourself, your family, or your property is under imminent threat.

And if I'm not home, my two dogs will possess 9/10ths of your body parts.

Re:Say it with me again folks... (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095662)

NASA ought to get slapped around for being reckless. The law shouldn't be used to shelter this willful disregard of basic computer and data safety. Turning to the law ought to be a last resort. What if they'd lost their valuable data because they didn't back it up off site and a fire broke out and destroyed their data center? Sue the fire department? Or if a hurricane destroys it, sue NOAA? So I suppose they'll sue this hacker into bankruptcy and lock him up for 10 years so theyll have plenty of time before they'll have to phear him again. However, revenge won't restore whatever they lost.

Your example is nearly entrapment. You don't have any additional signs saying "no trespassing" or any other kind of injunctions. You hardly need add "make yourself at home" as if you are expecting a guest, because the info you have provided practically screams it. Why else would you have provided it?

I've heard of a medieval ruler name of Vlad the Impaler, who hailed from Romania or somewhere near there, and who earned his name for impaling thieves. He'd leave purses of money lying in the streets, and have them watched. People (other than the owners) who so much as touched one were convicted of theft, never mind their intentions.

Re:Say it with me again folks... (3, Informative)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095946)

Various US Government Agencies have been slow to pick up information security. With few notable exceptions, the US Government just doesn't get infosec. But what the US Government does understand is law. Law is a relatively slow process compared to the hack. Some of these cases take years before the Feds are knocking on doors. If you're a script kiddie who's keen on a *.gov address for your IRC bot, keep that in mind. In the short term you may be successful. But you have no idea if the US Government actually did notice and are taking the long, drawn out process to bring you down via whatever Law allows it.

I once attended an infosec meeting at a NASA center several years ago. The initial presentation was an analysis of an incident involving some Oganization's lab systems. It was well done and full of very handy technical information, lessons learned, and advice to other Orgs on how to avoid a simular incident. I looked around the room. Most eyes were well glazed over. Obviously the information was lost on an audience who should be taking notes. The next presentation came from our FBI representative. The rep. basically talked about the lab equipment that was confiscated... what was happening to the HDs during analysis... and the process of "getting the bad guys." The crowd lit up. Everyone was rather excited. They were going to get the bad guys. Few there seemed to realize that this was not "good news". Rather, it was a failure as the lab systems compromised represented lossess to already-tight budgets.

Things have changed since that time. Infosec is changing... at least at NASA. There are new attitudes, new requirements, new regulations. I've still got my own concerns and criticisms of the state of things. It's far from perfect, to say the least. But there is change. We'll see how well it holds.

Re:Say it with me again folks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17096060)

Your analogy is reasonable but there is another factor at play here.

I am a US citizen. I pay taxes, vote, do things most other US citizens do. As someone who works in IT, I find the instances of our government being hacked, downright embarassing. These occurrences happen because of policy. Plain and Simple. How hard is it to restrict web accessible data to X # of sites?? REALLY.....

Now, has it crossed my mind to take intiative and pro-actively security test these sites on the web? Yes. Do I fear what would repurcussions might happen to me if I merely attempted this? Yes. Mind you my intent is to test for security holes in systems holding US Government data. Nothing more. I don't care what is behind them. Just that they are secure. Call it 'White Hat', 'Ethical' or whatever 'Hacking', but if my TRUE purpose is that of the Noble cause of providing better security for MY Country, how is that wrong???

Sadly, My government would never believe such a thing. They have and will always view its Citizens as enemies when unasked assistance is provided in compensation for their shortcomings.

The government that couldn't build a database (1)

titusdwight (1035226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095436)

The Department of Homeland Security has spent millions (some reports have it as high as 100 million) to build a database that will share terror information. So far they have nothing that even works in a Beta state much less a working program. And we're supposed to be shocked that these folks can be hacked. I read an article about it on http://www.adamswickle.com/ [adamswickle.com]

Manually communicate? (1)

yamamushi (903955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095544)

Can someone please explain to me how they would manually communicate with a spacecraft, as opposed to using a computer system? What is the difference?

Re:Manually communicate? (2, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096174)

You could manually compile a list of commands and type them into the command encoder. Normally, most of the work is automated.

Pfffffffft (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095606)

It seems everyone else has been busy hacking into government systems while I've been wasting my time playing Warcraft.

The joke's on them. They're going to jail, and you've got all the epics!

"New"s (0, Redundant)

Yirimyah (884895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17095798)

I saw this in the mainstream media about 4-5 days ago. Frankly, I assumed that this article refered to a different person. WD, guys.

There has been crime commited on both sides. (3, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096012)

The romanian kid is obviously a script kiddie and obviously he deserves some kind of punishment.

Another crime is commited here though, which is denying this kid a fair trial.

The previous case with the UK script kiddie was indication enough that things are terribly wrong. The FBI is banking on the general public's unawareness on computers. That Gary guy accessed some US govt. server with a default windows password or something like that, was it? Yeah fitting punishment of life in prison NOT. The FBI throws around ridicioulus numbers as to justify the harsher penalties, but the truth is, the guy is responsible for very little damage, even though the system had to be reinstalled etc, BECAUSE the system was so insecure in the first place that it should have been replaced in the first place! The wast majority of the costs are the due to their own stupidity. The equivalent case would be a car crashing into a skyscraper and the skyscraper collapsing. Yeah, sure the driver is at fault for driving badly, but he's no way responsible for the collapse of the skyscraper in any sense except direct physical!

The amount of damages is seriously overinflated aswell, others have pointed to Bruce Schneier about it. You can't claim millions of dollars of damages when "you" (the FBI) went around and handled the whole thing the wrong way! Yeah, I might expect a citizen not to have a clue about computers and buy these stories, but the FBI has a responsibility not to talk out of its ass.

Similarly, in this new case, damages are overinflated and, yeah the kid broke into the system, but the one who caused the damages which caused problems at NASA is the idiotic MORON who designed the system in the first place. These stupid hacker stories are designer/maintainer problems and the FBI should damn well recognize this, because they have the technical expertise in order to do so.

But they are not doing this. In light of this I'm a pretty serious proponent in urging the non-US countries of the world of suspending ALL extradiction treaties (which should have happened right after Guantanamo rights abuses went public) with the USA until we can be sure that justice is served, not some scaremongering directed at the domestic public of the USA.

It has to be mentioned that I'm pretty pissed about it, since it sort of hits home. Arad, where the guy is from is a historical hungarian town which now belongs to Romania. There is a good possibility that this guy has hungarian origins and as a hungarian I'm
a.) scared about the bullying the USA comes up with
b.) even if the guy extradited is an obvious moron. I would think he'd deserve something in the amount of 2 years probation judging by the cases I'm familiar with, not extradition to a foreign country and dumped in a pound-my-ass prison for life. The USA prison conditions are despicable, but that's another story.

Common sense (2, Insightful)

c-reus (852386) | more than 7 years ago | (#17096110)

It's simple -- you just don't hack government computers. Way too much trouble when you get caught for that. Everybody knows that.

At least everybody *should* take note of that.
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