On April 1st VuNet reported that hackers had taken down the International Space Station’s email capabilities.
So, this was a good April Fool’s joke, right?
Three astronauts onboard the Space Station reported last night that email was no longer working.
Hackers are thought to have planted a Trojan in the computer systems at Houston and used the infection to ride the satellite uplink to the Space Station.
What is especially troubling is the email system’s reliance upon older Microsoft operating systems that are no longer supported by Microsoft.
“I am sorry but there is nothing we can do. It is past its deadline, said Professor Brian Offin, Microsoft’s head of obsolete operating systems.
Again, a good April Fool’s joke, right?
However, this false article brings to light the fact that as newer technologies replace legacy systems, we must bear in mind that the new technology changes will, over time, themselves become legacy systems and subject to the same outdated, unsupported and insecurities that plagued the very legacy systems they replaced.
So what’s this have to do with VoIP and the International Space Station? Well, details are thin, but way back in 2000 VoIP Group Inc. was awarded a contract to provide a VoIP replacement for the ISS to “bring about significant cost reductions as it supplements and then replaces an existing legacy system.”
Initially deployed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and later at other International Space Station operations centers, the solution will consist of VoIP Group’s gateways connected to the Internet and to Raytheon voice switches and CUseeMe conference servers to support voice conferencing. The system is designed to link together researchers, NASA operations personnel, and potentially ISS crew, to support collaboration during Space Station experiment planning and operations. Because users can access the system using a standard Internet browser on an inexpensive multimedia PC, they can be located at NASA centers, universities, and companies throughout the world, and still connect in real-time, 24 x 7.
I hope that the sharp folks at NASA and VoIPgroup are taking the proactive steps to avoid security problems with critical communications with the ISS.