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NASA facing rise in cyberattacks

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/lolloj)

NASA has reported a significant increase in cyberattacks faced by its remote employees during the coronavirus crisis.

Its staff are reportedly under a constant barrage of spam messages, phishing attempts, malware and ransomware attacks, from both nation-state and private attackers.

The attackers are aiming at the usual targets: login credentials, sensitive information, payment data, and device takeover. In order to gain access to this information, hackers have send fake emails about tax refunds, safety measures, donation requests, fake vaccines, as well as updates on virus transmissions.

NASA says the volume of attacks has risen sharply. Phishing attacks and the number of malicious sites blocked security systems both doubled, while malware attacks grew exponentially.

The organisation said it managed to successfully thwart all attacks, but highlighted the challenge of keeping all employee devices secure - particularly mobile devices.

"This is not specific to computers, there are also phishing attacks occurring against mobile devices with similar lures, such as text messages or advertisements within applications, designed to entice victims to click on links designed to secretly have their sensitive information and account credentials harvested," the company said.

NASA said it expects a heightened level of attacks for as long as the pandemic lasts, and warns its employees to remain vigilant.