Officials at Nasa were left red-faced last week after it emerged that a hacker had snuck onto the organisation's network and made off with design data about future space vehicles.
Some 43MB of of data, including a 15-page PowerPoint presentation for a shuttle design that featured detailed engineering drawings, were copied from one of Nasa's 'closed' servers.
The data was uploaded to an FTP server and then leaked to a ComputerWorld reporter as proof of the hack. According to the ComputerWorld website, a hacker going by the name of Rafa is responsible for the break in.
Rafa is well known on the hacker scene, and fronted the notorious website defacement group, World of Hell, throughout most of 2001.
But when he quit to move on at the start of this year the rest of the group disbanded. It has now become apparent that Rafa has moved on to become an 'investigative' hacker rather than a website vandal.
Indeed, he claims to be more of a 'researcher' these days and insisted that that he did not understand the sensitivity of the Nasa documents when he discovered them.
The information is said to include engineering details about the Cobra space shuttle engine design programme, as well as information on the Boeing TA4 Advanced Checkout, Control & Maintenance System for the next generation of space shuttles.
While it is not thought that the documents could be used to damage the space programme, they are restricted under export law and US International Trafficking in Arms regulations.
The information is reported to be of most interest to foreign governments and competitors in the same space.
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