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Space Security Worms

Computer Virus Aboard the ISS 290

chrb writes "BBC News is reporting that laptops taken to the International Space Station by NASA astronauts are infected with the Gammima.AG worm. The laptops have no net connection; officials suspect the worm may have been transferred via a USB flash drive owned by an astronaut. NASA have said this isn't the first time computer viruses had travelled into space."
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Computer Virus Aboard the ISS

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  • Solid proof!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @08:58AM (#24763723) Homepage

    That they need IT staff on the ISS.

    Even astronauts are not smart enough to maintain and repair their computers.

    Honestly though, Why the hell dont the laptops have anti virus software? if they are going to run a OS that is targeted by the bulk of viruses out there then it's dumb to send it up without AV software installed.

    There is no reason for a email/nutritional PC to not run AV.

  • One has to ask (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toby ( 759 ) * on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:00AM (#24763757) Homepage Journal

    What *Windows* is doing in space in the first place.

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:00AM (#24763769) Homepage

    Wow, someone who actually believes AV software stops viruses effectively?

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by adpsimpson ( 956630 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:02AM (#24763799)

    Honestly though, Why the hell dont the laptops have Linux? ... There is no reason for a email/nutritional PC to not run linux.

    There, fixed that for ya.

  • NASA needs Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrSmith0011000100110 ( 1344879 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:04AM (#24763815) Homepage Journal
    This is even further proof that NASA(as well as most every other major organization) needs to move away from the virus laden, insecure, corporate blunder we call Microsoft. Sure Exchange is a great mail system but its still just an iteration of a wheel that was created long before it. Were a giant like NASA or Boeing or Lockheed Martin or the US Govt itself to step away from the Microsoft Corporation, we'd start to see whatever the new adoptee was (preferably Linux) take some serious light and hopefully outshine the Gates machine.
  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:15AM (#24763957) Journal
    Antivirus software is typically only effective if regularly updated. In machines that aren't networked, getting these updates is very tricky.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:19AM (#24764031)

    Simply disable the autorun service for USBs. That will make your computer safe from yet another of the many, many moronic ideas of Windows developers.

    Also, computer viruses like those cannot be detected normally under Windows XP, but on Windows 98/Millenium (which don't have autorun for USB sticks) they appear in their full glory. AND they will screw you as soon as you auto-open one. Then you'll need to remove them from your hard disk (and of course, the virus files cannot be detected normally under Windows XP)

  • by Chineseyes ( 691744 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:28AM (#24764159)
    If they're not more careful, we might find someday intelligent artificial life out there... and kill it.

    Yes, because intelligent artificial lifeforms will definitely be running windows Vista on an x86 architecture.
  • by name*censored* ( 884880 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:36AM (#24764275)

    This isn't necessarily a problem with Microsoft/Windows (although they certainly could have had a better security system), it's a problem with monoculture. Each vulnerability discovered opens up mind-bogglingly large amounts of computers to hacking, so all of the black hats are focusing their efforts on one small goal (making at least one of them succeed very quickly). This also means that exploits relying on uncommon settings (ones that rely on the target having say, two separate unrelated applications installed) are researched, where they might not have been worth the effort otherwise.

    Although you have a point about big companies stepping away from Microsoft. Linux is open source, no-architecture-lock-in, and comes with so many different distros with so many different default settings, that the monoculture problem would be replaced with many-more-but-easier-to-manageable problems (think "Asteroids"). The other advantage that a polyculture OS world would offer is halting the SPREAD of the virii - if an exploit relies on someone to have XYZ system/configuration, it wouldn't necessarily be able to spread through the "fire-breaks" of ABC or DEF systems/configurations (and since most home computers nowadays are Microsoft's XYZ systems/configurations, there's no "fire breaks").

  • Re:Sure there is. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheP4st ( 1164315 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#24764283)
    How about the minor detail that the Austronauts can bring USB sticks with them that have not been thoroughly checked for malware. While being an isolated environment it obviously isn't protected from security challenged austronauts.
  • by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:50AM (#24764469)
    "The laptops have no net connection .."

    So, how do they send/receive email ..

    "The laptops infected with the virus were used to run nutritional programs and let the astronauts periodically send e-mail back to Earth"

    So, they do have a net connection ..

    "The laptops carried by astronauts reportedly do not have any anti-virus software on them to prevent infection"

    So how did they detect the 'infection' by the Gammima.AG worm ..

    "The ISS has no direct net connection"

    How do the laptops send/recieve email .. speculation by a slashdot reader don't count ..


    "We are having a hard time understanding the how and why [wired.com], but everything is working", Commander Bill Sheperd Feb 2001
  • Re:WINDOWS ONLY! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @09:57AM (#24764573)

    Yes, I'm sure that all of the mission-critical systems are running on laptops - especially the life-support and navigation systems.

    On a funny note, though, I was watching a Discovery Channel special about Air Force One, and I noticed that one of the computer screens on the Comm room had a Windows error message on it. Also, when I badge in at work, I almost always hear the Windows error chime going off incessantly, and see the poor mystified guard clicking the mouse in futility. And the last time I was at Wal-Mart, one of the self check-out registers had to reboot and I saw a Windows XP login screen pop up. Nice!

  • by LordEd ( 840443 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:03AM (#24764673)

    I think the summary is incorrect. From TFA:

    The ISS has no direct net connection and all data traffic travelling from the ground to the spacecraft is scanned before being transmitted.

    Having no network connection and no direct net connection are different things. I suspect it means that the ISS has some form of network connection to NASA's internal network, but does not have any access to the Internet.

  • Re:Right... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @10:50AM (#24765467) Journal

    He might be IT for some company mandating usage.

    I'm in a nearly pure-Linux environment and I've indirectly encountered a fair portion of that list either in my family, or with releasing a Windows client for our software that just happens to trip anti-virus software for no reason we could ever figure out.

    AV software is so crappy it will reach out to screw you hard.

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @11:03AM (#24765691)


    THey shouldnt be using windows, precisely because of this risk.

    And thats that.

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Plugh ( 27537 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @12:29PM (#24767079) Homepage

    Quoth MrNaz:
    The reason NASA didn't bother with AV is because there's no pressure on their IT department.

    BINGO!! In a government bureaucracy, there is no market competition... so we should not be surprised at the Soviet level of performance at NASA, the DMV, or the USPS.

    That's why, as an avid fan of space exploration, I oppose the very existence of NASA. I'd like private companies to compete for my donated dollar, for advertiser dollars, and for talented employees.

    Just one more reason I moved to New Hampshire. [freestateblogs.net]

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @12:56PM (#24767485) Homepage Journal

    Oh, bullshit.
    Our IT dept. his head and shoulders any IT I have dealt with when I was in the private sector.

    No company is going to make space probes just for science. NASA is needed for that kind of exploration.

    That kind of exploration bring many benefits to you and I, benefits that would be less likely to get if a corporation were to to space exploration at this point.

    I am hopeful that more and more basic launches move to the private sector, and NASA become more focused on the edge of exploration.

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Plugh ( 27537 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @01:08PM (#24767607) Homepage
    If NASA is so great, why is it that the only way you can get funding is to threaten to throw my ass in jail if I don't feel like paying for it?!?!
  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aetherworld ( 970863 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @01:25PM (#24767879) Homepage

    They do have Norton Antivirus installed.

    No joke. However, this tells us what operating system they run. Which is a joke if you ask me...

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @02:35PM (#24768825)

    Soviet-style public schools. That's great.
    Even your radical freestateproject.org link wants the government to protect our rights. I presume this is done via a police and/or court system.

    If our rights are so great, why is it that the only way you can get funding is to threaten to throw my ass in jail if I don't feel like paying for it?!?!

    First, I have to interject here: are you planning to go into a barter system? Or are you hoping that everybody in free association will select a common medium of exchange?

    The fact is that capitalism selects for profitability (obviously), and profitability is not necessarily the same thing as greatness. It's an optimization heuristic. It is not a truly optimal algorithm. NASA, and public schools, are attempts to tweak our heuristics to be more optimal. Sometimes our tweaks fail. That does not mean that all tweaks are inherently doomed to fail. Nor does it mean that we should abandon the basic heuristic of capitalism.

    If, philosophically, you have a problem with tax-funded anything, then that's okay and you can explain that problem. But to claim that a tax-funded thing is bad because the market is necessarily better, you must first show that the market creates truly optimal conditions at all times in all places.

  • Re:Solid proof!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlarocco ( 851450 ) on Wednesday August 27, 2008 @02:51PM (#24768999) Homepage

    If ANYTHING TAX FUNDED LIKE PUBLIC SCHOOL is so great, why is it that the only way you can get funding is to threaten to throw my ass in jail if I don't feel like paying for it?!?!

    See how that works?

    Yes, I do. And it's a good question.

    If public schools are so great, why can't they compete against private schools in a voucher system? If the government run schools are so much better, they'd beat out the privately run schools and we'd end up right back where we are now, right?

    Microsoft has a "monopoly" when there are half a dozen alternatives and the people here are outraged. The government has a forced monopoly on something 100x more important, and people act like it's the best thing since sliced bread. How's that work?

    The government can't even run a restaurant [washingtonpost.com] without offering poor quality and losing millions of dollars. Why in god's name would you want to trust them with anything important?

  • by willyhill ( 965620 ) <pr8wak@g m a i l.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:18AM (#24776303) Homepage Journal

    Most Slashdot editors have happily replaced words in my stories.

    The "M$ Windoze" prose usually needs to be scrubbed out. Otherwise people would think Slashdot is run by teenagers on Prozac.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.