Teleworking NASA employees become hacking targets

Inspector general shares concerns with U.S. lawmakers

NASA is already contending with delays to its missions because of the widespread teleworking prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the agency must also contend with how that teleworking affects its cybersecurity, agency Inspector General Paul Martin told the House space subcommittee today.

About 90% of NASA’s employees and contractors have been working remotely since March, Martin said during the hearing. He said “phishing attempts have doubled and malware attacks have increased exponentially.”

This increase is not unique to NASA, said Diana Burley, a cybersecurity researcher and vice provost for research at American University in Washington, D.C. Larger numbers of employees logging in from their home networks increases the number of points through which hackers can attempt to gain information from government agencies and companies, and employees who may be “distracted, frightened and fatigued” with juggling work and personal responsibilities may be easier targets.

“We must recognize that while basic cyber hygiene practice is relatively doable under normal circumstances, these are not normal times,” Burley told lawmakers.

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Teleworking NASA employees become hacking targets