Today Der Spiegel released a report detailing a covert cyber attack that took place at Germany’s space research center in Cologne.
According to the documents provided, last Sunday the German Aerospace Center (DLR) contacted the National Cyber Defense Center after discovering a litany of various malware programs and keyloggers installed on machines used by high-ranking scientists and researchers with the agency who hold top level clearances.
So far it’s unclear who exactly was behind the assault, but subtle clues such as several characters of code written in Chinese may provide more of a complete picture of where the German watchdog agency should be focusing their efforts as they continue to probe the attack in an attempt to unearth the identity of those responsible.
Were it revealed to be the Chinese, this would have the potential to put the longstanding agreement of cooperation for space travel between themselves and the German government at risk, threatening a union that was first signed into existence all the way back as far as 2008.
Even though it’s unlikely we’ll see hackers taking control of space ships anytime soon, it is still concerning that one of the pillars of our infrastructure and defense systems was so easily circumvented.
Der Spiegel was careful to note that just because the space program and its subsidiaries were the primary target, the same servers responsible for managing those missions also have a direct line to much more advanced missile control and guidance systems. National defense is of the utmost priority when we talk about the potential damage that cyberattacks can cause when left unchecked, and the last thing anyone wants to see is another Stuxnet virus in the hands of someone who’s more interested in the next nuclear war than they are in total disarmament.