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Virus attack on International Space Station

NEW YORK (BNS): A malicious software has made its way into the International Space Station. Confirming the malware, NASA said this is not the first time when a virus has reached beyond the frontiers of planet Earth.

The malware was identified on Monday as the virus "W32.Gammima.AG", and it was found on a laptop used in the space station. The virus is a level 0 gaming virus intended to gather personal information. It was further reported that Virus was never a threat to any of the computers used for command and control. It also has no adverse effect on ISS operations, reports said.

Investigators believe that the virus could have reached either during the initial software load or may have migrated from a personal compact flash card. Interestingly, they have noted that that most of the IP laptops and some of the payload laptops do NOT provide virus protection/detection software.

NASA has refused to confirm the name of the virus but said that it was detected on July 25. International Space Station commander Sergey Volkov was working on the Russina Rss-2 laptop, when he went for the virus check.

The anti-virus check results were sent back to the earth station which confirmed the worm forcing NASA to load all laptops on ISS with anti-virus softwares. "All A31p laptops onboard are currently being loaded with the latest Norton Antivirus software and updated definition files for increased protection," said NASA.

Reports said that malware is a year old Windows worm designed to steal information from players of 10 different online games. Some of these games are specific to Chinese market. These are: ZhengTu, HuangYi One and Rohan.

The worm also plants a root kit on the infected system, and transmits hijacked data to a remote server.

The virus poses no threat to the system, claimed officials. "It was never a threat to any command and control or operations computer," an official was quoted as saying.

But the computer security at the space station has become a cause of concern as it is still being found out how the worm got there in first place. And this has not happened for the first time. "There have been other incidents," an official at Johnson Space Center in Houston confirmed. "I don't know when the first one was, but the station will have been in orbit for 10 years come November," said the official.

“If there is any good news at all, it’s that the malware was designed to steal usernames and passwords from computer game players, not something that orbiting astronauts are likely to be spending a lot of time doing," said an official.

NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries said all equipment undergoes serious scanning. "Everything is scanned before it goes up, so it's an indirect connection," Humphries said. Most equipment on board ISS is bought either by the US or by Russia.

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