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16 January 2012, 10:38

Data stolen from Japanese space agency

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Zoom The H-II transfer vehicle appears to have been the target of a spyware attack

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has confirmed that sensitive data has been stolen from a staff computer. The agency said that a virus infection was detected on an employee's terminal on 6 January. The employee is involved with the H-II transfer vehicle that carries cargo to the International Space Station. The agency added that, apart from the email addresses stored on the computer, data related to the transfer vehicle and its schedule, as well as system login data, is potentially at risk because of the intrusion.

According to the statement, "an anomaly" was detected on the computer in mid-August, prompting an examination of the computer and the removal of a virus that was found. However, the agency noted that the computer was still unstable and it has, therefore, been continuously monitored since then. No reason was given why a further data-harvesting virus was only detected on 6 January. The agency apologised in its statement, saying that it will strengthen its information security, attempt to limit the damage and investigate the causes. All system passwords have been changed and the scale of damage, as well as its impact on the space program, is currently being investigated. No information on the origin and nature of the malware has been released.


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