On Wednesday, NASA sent an internal memo to its employees to inform them of a data breach that was identified on October 23. The notice claimed that hackers were able to obtain personally identifiable information including social security numbers belonging to the space agency’s staff.
According to The Daily Mail, NASA is working with federal investigators to determine the extent of the breach and who might be responsible. It said that servers were accessed that contained the personal information of employees that worked at the agency between July 2006 and October 2018.
The message was sent to inform employees to take the necessary precautions to prevent possible identity theft. It seems that investigators still haven’t narrowed down the employees who may have been affected; however, the agency promised to notify individuals when that information becomes available.
It is unknown who is behind the breach or what their motivation might be, but it comes at a time when the U.S. government is on high alert regarding government-sponsored cyber-espionage. Authorities reportedly believe the recent hack of Marriott hotels’ booking system, which exposed the information of 500 million guests, was an information gathering mission perpetrated by the Chinese government.
The operation is believed to be connected to a larger campaign that breached the records of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2014. Chinese intelligence operatives are said to find the information useful for rooting out spies, tracking government officials’ movements, and identifying future targets.