AnonSec published the information in a paper, which it labels OpNasaDrones. The hacker group brags that NASA has found itself on the receiving end of network breaches on a number of occasions, and that is basically stumbled upon the data without much effort.
“This hack into NASA wasn’t initially focused on [drone] data and upper atmosphere chemical samples,” writes members of AnonSec. “In fact the original breach into NASA systems wasn’t even planned, it was caught up in a gozi virus spread.”
Once inside, AnonSec was able to retrieve 631 videos that were captured using the onboard cameras on NASA’s Global Hawk drone. Other information downloaded include weather radars, over 2,100 flight logs and the email address and phone numbers for over 2,400 NASA employees.
While grabbing data dumps are par for the course when it comes to network intrusions like this, AnonSec attempted a rather bold move via a man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attack to upload a new, malicious flight plan for the Global Hawk so that it would crash into the ocean.
“Several members were in disagreement on this because if it worked, we would be labeled terrorists for possibly crashing a $222.7 million US Drone,” writes AnonSec. “But we continued anyways, lol.”
For its part, NASA is denying that AnonSec was able to gain control of its drone and is downplaying the relevance of the data that was obtained, telling Fox News, “NASA strives to make our scientific data publicly available, including large data sets, which seems to be how the information in question was retrieved.”
NASA went on to add in a separate statement:
Control of our Global Hawk aircraft was not compromised. NASA has no evidence to indicate the alleged hacked data are anything other than already publicly available data. NASA takes cybersecurity very seriously and will continue to fully investigate all of these allegations.
AnonSec claims to have initiated its attack on NASA to expose the organization’s climate engineering and geoengineering work as well as bring attention to conspiracy theories such as the production of chemtrails.