NASA cyber incidents up 366 percent, cybersecurity budget down $3.1M

That the DopplePaymer ransomware gang claimed to breach NASA contractor DMI shouldn’t come as any surprise, considering that the space agency – and potentially by extension any organization in its orbit – is a frequent target of cyberattacks.

Atlas VPN found that cyber incidents at NASA increased by 366 percent in 2019 to 1,468 incidents, compared to only 315 the year before. Meanwhile, NASA’s cybersecurity budget decreased by $3.1 million.

“Incidents caused by improper usage increased the most, from 180 in 2018 to 1,329 in 2019, representing a 638 percent increase per year,” according to an Atlas VPN blog post.

“Cyber incidents at NASA can affect national security, intellectual property, and individuals whose data could be lost due to data breaches,” the post said.

That’s what makes the breach at DMI so troubling. “The theft and ransom of NASA data from a third-party contractor could be dangerous in the wrong hands,” said Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate with Comparitech. “This is data that's not just valuable to financially motivated criminals, but also nation-state actors who want to spy on NASA and its employees. Employee records, for example, could be used to vet and recruit individuals working for NASA to spy and steal on behalf of foreign governments.”

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