A new hacking group with the name “The Unknowns” has targeted NASA, the European Space Agency, the U.S. Air Force, Harvard University and others but not as an outright malicious attack. The group has said it released information it hacked from these organizations to show them just how vulnerable their systems are.
Space.com reports the hack dates back to March, although passwords and documents from the previously mentioned organizations, as well as the U.S. Military’s Joint Pathology Center, the Thai Royal Navy, Renault, the Jordanian Yellow Pages and the Ministries of Defense of France and Bahrain, were posted on a Pastebin site earlier this week.
NASA has said the agency detected the hackers on April 20 and took that area of the site offline. No sensitive information was breached. Space.com reached out to other organizations mentioned in the hack but they have not responded.
Space.com has more on the hacker’s intent:
In its message, The Unknowns explained the impetus for their exploits, and warned they could have caused much more damage than they did.
“Victims, we have released some of your documents and data, we probably harmed you a bit but that’s not really our goal because if it was then all of your websites would be completely defaced but we know that within a week or two, the vulnerabilities we found will be patched and that’s what we’re looking for.”
The hackers said they are “ready to give you full info on how we penetrated threw [sic] your databases,” and told the affected organizations to contact them.
According to the hacking group’s Twitter account, they go by the slogan “We are The Unknowns; our knowledge talks and wisdom listens…” Space.com calls their hacking stance “hacking for good,“ meaning they hack with an ”ethical” intent.
News of this hack comes at a time when NASA is trying to maintain its security image. Earlier this year, NASA announced it was heightening its cybersecurity after it was revealed an unencrypted laptop with command codes to the International Space Station was stolen. This was just one of 48 laptop thefts between 2009 and 2011. An ongoing investigation into the Chinese allegedly hacking into NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was also revealed at the time.