From educational institutions to private companies, including space research centres -- all have faced the same threat. Just a few months ago the US space agency, NASA stated that they suffered a security breach incident in 2019. Now, the Indian Space Research Organisation, commonly known as ISRO, revealed that they too were notified about a possible cyberattack on its systems.
The Indian space agency was informed about a possible security breach around the time of its Chandrayaan-2 lunar landing mission. Apart from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), located in southern India, ISRO was also targeted by the infamous North Korea-based hacker group, Lazarus, which was involved in 2014 hack of Sony Pictures, as per FBI. But here the question is, did this cyberattack cause the failure of ISRO's lunar mission?
India's cybersecurity and e-surveillance agency, the National Cyber Coordination Centre received intelligence from a US-based cybersecurity company on September 3. The report revealed that a malware identified as Dtrack, developed by the North Korean hacker group, has breached master "domain controllers" at the nuclear plant in southern India and ISRO which would mean the cybercriminals gained access to the server computer to steal data.
After the identification of the malware attack, the authorities at the nuclear power plant and ISRO were duly informed on September 4. Later, an official at ISRO revealed that they received an alert from the Computer Emergency Response Team, India (CERT-In) during the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which began on July 22. However, the space agency clarified that they were not affected by the attack.
As reported by the Indian media outfit The Quint, the official stated that ISRO received the alert and the cybersecurity team took care of the issue by conducting checks. In addition, the spokesperson said, "Our systems were not compromised and our systems were not affected," as quoted by Financial Times.
This North Korea based hacking group recently was featured in many news headlines after it stole cryptocurrencies worth $571 million and was behind 14 cyber-attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges since January 2017. Its vicious operation against Sony destroyed data of several company computers and ended up publishing embarrassing emails from company executives to avenge a film that depicted the assassination of North Korea's leader.
In terms of the recent attack on NASA, it was revealed that the space agency noticed hackers make off with sensitive data relating to Mars mission as well as details on curiosity rover. The data breach, which affected NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) remained undetected for almost 10 months.