An investigation has revealed that a NASA laptop that was stolen last year had a lot of very important information. And, that information was not encrypted. These are the details that were exposed during a Congressional hearing yesterday. NASA inspector general Paul Martin admitted that the problems were grave.
"The March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of the algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station," Martin said in his testimony.
He said that nothing on the computer was encrypted, meaning anyone who got his or her hands on it could see volumes of stuff that was only meant for NASA's eyes. It's ridiculous to think that an organization like NASA could have unsecured data in its facilities, in this day and age.
This isn't a lone incident, either. NASA that over the last two years, more than 5,000 incidents involving computers and loss of data were reported. Those incidents have a collective price tag of more than $7 million.
Most of those incidents didn't involve a physical laptop or device being stolen or misplaced. Instead, there were a lot of cyber breaches, which were described as ranging from hackers infiltrating NASA databases just to prove they could, to more nefarious things like foreign spies getting their hands on precious data.
Martin said that he is the only Inspector General among all US agencies that keep a regular track of cyber activity. That, by the way, should also probably change.