Japan's space agency suffers cyber attack, points finger at Active Directory

JAXA is having a tough time in cyberspace and outer space, the latter thanks to an electrical glitch

Japan's Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reported a cyber incident.

Chief cabinet secretary Matsuno mentioned the incident in his morning briefing, telling reporters the agency suspected a breach, possibly to its Active Directory implementation, so conducted further research and found illegal access.

JAXA has since shut down part of its network, including an intranet, as it seeks help to determine the extent of the incident.

Secretary Matsuno said Japan's government has asked JAXA to implement countermeasures, adding that early research suggests no sensitive information was stolen.

JAXA has had a hard time of it lately, in cyberspace and outer space. On Earth, the agency was breached in 2016 and 2012. A Chinese national was charged over the 2016 incident, which was thought to be one of 200-odd attacks on Japanese entities initiated by the accused. Japanese authorities took until 2021 to initiate legal action against the alleged perp, who is said to have conducted the attacks while studying at a local university.

JAXA's troubles in outer space relate to recent launch failures. After 19 years without a flop, JAXA's two most recent launches both failed. In October 2022 the usually reliable Epsilon rocket was ordered to self-destruct after veering off its intended course. A February 2023 test for Japan's new H3 rocket, and its March 2023 first flight, both failed.

An investigation into the H3 failure found that after the ignition signal was sent to the second stage engine, the propulsion system controller detected a power abnormality and shut down other components. Exactly what happened next isn't known, but JAXA is testing and fixing three possible scenarios it's identified as flowing from the power glitch.

In happier news, two November tests of the H3's engine succeeded.

But in recent weeks, the space agency has twice rescheduled the launch of a sounding rocket, with delayed preparation causing one delay before bad weather intervened to cause the postponement of a second launch attempt. ®

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