Japanese Space Agency Acknowledges Security Breach

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that an employee's computer was recently found to have been infected with malware designed to steal data.

"JAXA said that a security sweep of its systems on November 21 showed that a single computer had been subverted by the malware, and it was not clear if this was a targeted cyber-attack for espionage purposes," writes The Register's Iain Thomson.

"The data stolen from the space agency included information about the Epsilon, a solid-fuel rocket still under development," writes The New York Times' Martin Fackler. "While the Epsilon is intended to launch satellite and space probes, solid-fuel rockets of that size can also have a military use as intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Epsilon, whose first launching is scheduled for next autumn, will also feature new technology that will allow it to be remotely controlled by a personal computer."

A similar malware infection in January of this year leaked data on JAXA's H-II Transfer Vehicle, which is designed to transport cargo to the International Space Station.

"Over the past decade, incidents involving computer-based espionage have grown increasingly common," notes Ars Technica's Dan Goodin. "A variety of targets from around the world, including those in private industry, government agencies, and human rights organizations, have frequently been hit, with evidence often implicating actors linked to the Chinese government. Highly sophisticated malware dubbed Flame, which reportedly was jointly developed by the US and Israeli governments, has also been used to spy on Iran."