August 14, 2012

NASA To Call On Mohawk Man To Fend Off Curiosity Hackers?

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Mohawk Man may be a new Internet sensation, but NASA will need a new kind of superhero to keep one hacker at bay from its new Curiosity rover.

Flashpoint Partners, a cybersecurity firm, spotted a message on the AnonOps IRC channel trying to recruit hackers to hack into the new Martian rover.

The message read:

"MarsCuriosity: Anyone in Madrid, Spain or Canberra who can help isolate the huge control signal used for the Mars Odyssey / Curiosity system please? The cypher and hopping is a standard mode, just need base frequency and recordings/feed of the huge signal going out. (yes we can spoof it both directions!)"

The rover arrived on Mars last week, and is currently being prepped for a series of software updates before beginning its two-year mission.

Curiosity is the largest and most advanced rover NASA has sent to the Red Planet, and it will be helping scientists determine whether Earth's planetary neighbor has ever had conditions favorable for life.

According to a PCMag report, Flashpoint co-founder Josh Lefkowitz said the handle "MarsCuriosity" was likely a one-off created and used specifically for the proposed operation.

The security firm said it could even be an impostor seeking to draw out members of the Anonymous collective.

PCMag published a report last week titled "How to Hack NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover." In the report, it says a hacker would first have to override NASA's own control signal by having the ability to transmit an X-Band radio signal that reached 400,000 watts.

The report also suggests a way to take over NASA's control systems without them noticing, which is likely the "most porous point of attack," according to AlienVault research team engineer Conrad Constantine.

Flashpoint's alarm of hacker's coming attempts to try and take over the Rover are most likely of little concern to NASA at the time. Mission controllers are still getting Curiosity ready to begin its mission.