Well … not by Martians but by cyber criminals. Associated Press reported that the Phoenix Mars Lander Project Web site, http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu, was taken over by a hacker last Saturday. The hacker, who identifies himself as “VITAL,” inserted his signature and a link that redirects visitors to an overseas Web site in lieu of last Friday’s mission update (see screenshot below).
If you’re interested in the latest space technology news and advancements, you’d probably be aware of the Phoenix Mars Landers Project. Launched last August 2007, Phoenix finally touched down safely on Mars the evening of May 25th. Its mission: “To study and reveal clues in the martian arctic soils about the history of water and potential for biology.”
NASA noted that only five out of thirteen landing attempts have been successful before Phoenix. Surely, its successful landing is another one of those one-small-step-for-man-one-giant-leap-for-mankind types of events that cyber criminals surely won’t miss out on – for social engineering use that is.
Right now, the site, which is hosted by the University of Arizona, has already been cleaned. However, the hacker droppings still left traces on Google’s cached results. This has been sent to Threat Response Engineers for further investigation.