Thursday, August 28, 2008

Malware That Is Out Of This World

NASA confirmed yesterday that Malware has managed to get off the planet and onto the International Space Station and it's not the first time that a worm or virus has stowed away on a trip into orbit.

Laptops brought aboard The International Space Station were infected with a computer worm known as W32.Gammima.AG.

W32.Gammima.AG is a worm that mainly attacks gamers. It spreads by copying itself to removable media and then attempts to steal passwords to various online games.

Wired magazine said that NASA characterized the virus as a "nuisance" and said it was only on "non-critical space station laptops" that have e-mail and nutritional experiments. Furthermore, NASA said the July virus wasn't the first computer virus to hit the final frontier.

"This is not the first time we have had a worm or a virus," NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told Wired. "It's not a frequent occurrence, but this isn't the first time."

The first public reports of the malware was logged on Aug. 14. In NASA's daily status report on the station, the agency said that Sergey Volkov, the ISS commander, was "working on the Russian RSS-2 laptop" and "ran digital photo flash cards from stowage through a virus check with Norton AntiVirus"

A week later, on Aug. 21, Volkov "checked another Russian laptop, today RSK-1, for software virus by scanning its hard drives and a photo disk."

The next day, Volkov transmitted antivirus scanning results from the laptop to Earth, and U.S. astronaut Greg Chamitoff scanned another computer for possible infection. NASA also said in Friday's report that all laptops on board the ISS were being loaded with antivirus software.

"All A31p laptops onboard are currently being loaded with [the] latest [Norton AntiVirus] software and updated definition files for increased protection," said NASA.

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