After Budget Cuts, Cyber Attacks On NASA Jump By 366%

Cybercriminals have increased the frequency of attacks against NASA in the wake of the space agency’s cybersecurity budget being cut, with attacks jumping more than 300%

The news comes via Atlas VPN, who says that for the year of 2019, attacks were up by 366%, representing an “alarming finding” considering that NASA is “one of the nation’s most important federal agencies.” 

For the entire year of 2018, cyber criminals launched a total of 315 cyber attack campaigns against NASA, which was eclipsed last year by a total of 1468 attacks. A digital security incident was classified by authors of the report as “any attempted or actual unauthorised access, use, disclosure or destruction of information,” as well as any “violations of NASA’s computing policies and regulations.” 

Cyber attacks launched against NASA have the potential to impact anything from national security to critical infrastructure around the country. Atlas points out that in the Office of Management and Budget’s report to Congress, in spite of the fact that NASA is frequently updating its security systems, “a broad array of digital information and assets remain at risk.” 

In spite of the fact that the Federal government’s overall spending on cybersecurity increased across the board for the Department of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury and State, NASA was the only Federal agency to have its cybersecurity budget slashed. NASA saw its cyber security budget reduced by around USD $3 million. 

Authors noted that “interestingly, almost all other institutions saw increases in their cybersecurity budgets… the fact that NASA had the biggest increase in cyber incidents might lead to the conclusion that the decrease in the cybersecurity budget had a direct negative impact.” 

In total, the US Government spent $16.94 billion on cybersecurity in its 2019 budget, as compared to $14.98 billion in 2018. The Department of Defense received around 50% of the total cybersecurity budget; you can view the full breakdown below. 

An increase in cybersecurity funding overall is a sign that the US government’s agencies are in the process of transitioning to electronic data storage for its archives, and has realised the monetary investment required to keep top secret documents safe from unauthorised third-parties. 

“The complexity, technological diversity, [and] geographical decentralization of government networks are the main digital security challenges that these institutions face,” Atlas VPN noted, adding that “one of the most essential recommendations by Congress is that the federal government must modernize their systems regularly and systematically.” 

As we’ve reported in the past few weeks, both the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks has been increasing, with cybercriminals eyeing organisations and agencies as a potential target. 

Just last week we reported on a U.S. nuclear missile subcontractor with active government contracts who was hit by a cyber attack, with hackers demanding a ransom be paid in exchange for return of their sensitive data. 

For more information on how to maintain robust security protocols and keep the data of your customers and staff safe from prying eyes with an ISO 27001 – Information Security Management Systems – or for your free ISO 27001 Gap Analysis Checklist, click here

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