Risk
3/21/2013
01:09 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NASA Tightens Security In Response To Insider Threat

NASA shuts down database and tightens restrictions on remote access following the arrest of a Chinese contractor on suspicion of intellectual property theft.

Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour
Military Drones Present And Future: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
NASA has closed down its technical reports database and imposed tighter restrictions on remote access to its computer systems following the arrest of a Chinese contractor on suspicion of intellectual property theft.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden outlined those and other security measures in March 20 testimony before a congressional subcommittee. Bolden said he had ordered a review of the access that foreign nationals from designated countries -- including China, Iran and North Korea -- are given to NASA facilities and a moratorium on providing new access to citizens of those countries.

The agency's actions follow the March 16 arrest of Bo Jiang, a Chinese citizen, at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., as he prepared to leave the United States. The FBI, in its application for an arrest warrant, said it was investigating violations of the Arms Export Control Act.

[ NASA has suffered other security breaches in recent months. Read Stolen NASA Laptop Had Unencrypted Employee Data. ]

Jiang worked as a contractor with the National Institute of Aerospace, a nonprofit research organization, at NASA's Langley Research Center. During a border stop at Dulles, Jiang allegedly said that he had in his possession a cellphone, memory stick, external hard drive and new computer. During a subsequent search of Jiang's possessions, the agents found a second laptop, hard drive and SIM card, according to the arrest warrant.

Jiang was arraigned March 19 in federal district court in Norfolk, Va., on a charge of lying to federal agents. The contents of the confiscated electronic media have not been revealed.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that funds the space agency, said in a press conference that whistleblowers at NASA prompted the investigation. Wolf said Jiang was working on high-tech imaging technology that could be of potential interest to the Chinese military. Citing the arrest warrant, Wolf said Jiang had previously traveled to China with a NASA laptop "that agents believe to have contained sensitive information."

Wolf accused NASA of circumventing restrictions on the hiring of foreign nationals and said he had evidence that the NIA might employ other Chinese nationals under similar arrangements. The congressman called on NASA to audit all of its contractors that employ citizens of countries or organizations considered "entities of concern."

Wolf, in his seventeenth year in Congress, has been focused on the threat of Chinese cyber espionage. Earlier this month, he warned of security threats and the potential leak of classified information at NASA's Ames Research Center, and he pointed to the Chinese government's "systematic and aggressive efforts to steal" sensitive technology.

A well-defended perimeter is only half the battle in securing the government's IT environments. Agencies must also protect their most valuable data. Also in the new, all-digital Secure The Data Center issue of InformationWeek Government: The White House's gun control efforts are at risk of failure because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' outdated Firearms Tracing System is in need of an upgrade. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
moarsauce123
50%
50%
moarsauce123,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2013 | 5:36:31 PM
re: NASA Tightens Security In Response To Insider Threat
Keep hiring Chinese nationals for sensitive stuff, you idiots!
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2013 | 3:03:58 PM
re: NASA Tightens Security In Response To Insider Threat
Any system administrator will tell you that having remote access to people is usually a bad idea if security measure is not taken for remote access. Good catch though, to bad they do not know what he already transported to China and what information was on it. There is an obvious issue here working with national, not saying eliminate them, just have tighter security measures imposed and deeper detailed background reports. I wonder what will become of this guy, do we have the authority to detain and convict him?

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3861
Published: 2014-09-02
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in CDA.xsl in HL7 C-CDA 1.1 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted reference element within a nonXMLBody element.

CVE-2014-3862
Published: 2014-09-02
CDA.xsl in HL7 C-CDA 1.1 and earlier allows remote attackers to discover potentially sensitive URLs via a crafted reference element that triggers creation of an IMG element with an arbitrary URL in its SRC attribute, leading to information disclosure in a Referer log.

CVE-2014-5076
Published: 2014-09-02
The La Banque Postale application before 3.2.6 for Android does not prevent the launching of an activity by a component of another application, which allows attackers to obtain sensitive cached banking information via crafted intents, as demonstrated by the drozer framework.

CVE-2014-5452
Published: 2014-09-02
CDA.xsl in HL7 C-CDA 1.1 and earlier does not anticipate the possibility of invalid C-CDA documents with crafted XML attributes, which allows remote attackers to conduct XSS attacks via a document containing a table that is improperly handled during unrestricted xsl:copy operations.

CVE-2014-6041
Published: 2014-09-02
The Android Browser application 4.2.1 on Android allows remote attackers to bypass the Same Origin Policy via a crafted attribute containing a \u0000 character, as demonstrated by an onclick="window.open('\u0000javascript: sequence.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
This episode of Dark Reading Radio looks at infosec security from the big enterprise POV with interviews featuring Ron Plesco, Cyber Investigations, Intelligence & Analytics at KPMG; and Chris Inglis & Chris Bell of Securonix.