BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama: Archive  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Archive
Cyber Attack!
Monday July 3 2000
Reporter Jane Corbin
Producer Toby Sculthorp
Assistant Producer Nicole Kleeman


Programme Update
Panorama viewer John Chamberlain decided to test the security of the Powergen website after seeing the programme, and exposed flaws in their protection of personal information.
See also: BBC News - Inquiry into Powergen net breach

Read the transcripts of the full interviews with Hacker Investigator John Vranesevich, and Sir Dystic and Deth Veggie of Cult of the Dead Cow

Panorama reveals that astronauts working for US Space Administration Nasa, including British-born Dr Michael Foale were put at risk by computer hackers during a 1997 Shuttle mission.

Scroll down for related links

The Nasa computer system that constantly monitors the heartbeat, pulse and medical condition of astronauts was interfered with just as the shuttle was attempting to dock with Russian counterparts deep in space. Nasa had to resort to communicating to their astronauts via the Russian space station Mir.

Roberta Gross, Inspector General at Nasa told Panorama, "We had an activity at a Nasa centre where a hacker was overloading our systems... to such an extent that it interfered with communications between the Nasa centre, some medical communications and the astronaut aboard the shuttle."

It shows the potential that hackers have for doing some real damage to Nasa's mission and astronaut safety

Roberta Gross
When asked by reporter Jane Corbin if this was a critical moment, Gross replied: "Well Nasa has a lot of fail-safes and it makes sure that there's not just one way of communicating so the transmission ultimately went through... but it shows the potential that hackers have for doing some real damage to Nasa's mission and astronaut safety."

Astronaut Dr Michael Foale said he was intrigued by the programme as he had been unaware that there had been a problem.

The revelation from Nasa that hackers successfully entered their system during a space mission gives an indication of the scale of the 'hacker' problem for government agencies throughout the world. In the past year alone Nasa has experienced over half a million cyber attacks.

Nasa's Roberta Gross
Nasa's Roberta Gross
"You take Nasa's missions and you take its vulnerabilities, then you can see how serious it can be... Everybody knows if there's a problem at Houston..., a potential vulnerability or someone is able to supersede the system that we set up, that's dangerous", Gross comments.

Panorama, Cyber Attack shows how Internet and computer systems have become the vulnerable spot in the defences of western nations like Britain and the United States.

With the world still reeling from the effects of "The Love Bug" computer virus, which infected millions of computers and cost billions of pounds, the programme investigates the secret activities of the "script kiddies" who create the viruses and the "crackers" who break into computers for criminal gain.

We speak exclusively to Michael Buen, one of the young Filipino men suspected of being behind The Love Bug virus which spread from a Manila slum to thousands of organisations across the globe.

Jane Corbin also talks to Raphael Gray, the Welsh teenager who is facing charges for downloading 26,000 credit card numbers using a computer. He created a simple computer programme which enabled him to pinpoint at random security flaws in nine on-line retail sites where thousands of credit card numbers of customers had been stored.

The programme also contains an exclusive interview with the San Francisco based Cult of the Dead Cow, considered the elite of the hacker community, who can literally take over your computer from thousands of miles away.

Related links:

BBC News - Hacker risked astronauts' lives

BBC News - A-Z: Hack Attack

Cult of the Dead Cow

Nasa

AntiOnline - Computer Security

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Cyber Attack!
The Cult of the Dead Cow on computer hacking
Cyber Attack!
Jane Corbin interviews Michael Buen

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Archive stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes