Japan’s space agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has fallen victim to a cyberattack, though authorities have reassured the public that critical information related to rocket and satellite operations remains secure.
A spokesperson from JAXA, addressing the incident on Wednesday (29 Nov), disclosed that the cyberattack exploited vulnerabilities in the agency’s network equipment.
Despite the breach, the spokesperson emphasised that no crucial data essential for rocket and satellite activities was compromised.
“The possibility of unauthorised access was identified, acknowledging the exploitation of network equipment vulnerabilities,” stated the spokesperson, refraining from divulging specific details regarding the timing of the attack.
JAXA became aware of the potential breach following information provided by an external organisation, prompting an immediate internal investigation. The spokesperson did not disclose the identity of the external organisation.
The investigation is currently ongoing, with JAXA looking into the full extent of the cyber intrusion.
The cyberattack is believed to have occurred during the summer months, with Yomiuri newspaper the first to break the news of the cyber incident. The police reportedly became aware of the breach and subsequently notified JAXA in the autumn.
JAXA has assured the public that stringent security measures are in place to mitigate the impact of the cyberattack and prevent any further compromise of sensitive information.
Earlier this month, Japan’s government pledged $6.6bn (¥1trn) towards its space sector in a new JAXA fund.
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The money is intended to go towards university research into space exploration, as well as space startups and other private sector companies.
In October 2023, Mitsubishi Heavy announced plans to launch payloads up to six times annually using its H3 rockets.
H3 has not yet launched successfully. Japan aborted its first launch in February after its secondary booster engines failed to ignite. A second attempt in March also failed when the H3 rocket self-destructed over the Philippine Sea.
In 2022 the space economy was valued at approximately $450bn, but by 2030 research company GlobalData predicts it could be worth between $760bn and $1trn.