Security-conscious NASA tightens e-mail policy

Security-conscious NASA tightens e-mail policy
Security-conscious NASA tightens e-mail policy 

By Alan Boyle
Science editor
Dec 7, 2006

Even as it prepares for its first nighttime shuttle launch in four 
years, NASA has clamped down on its computer network policies, due to 
security concerns raised about documents sent as e-mail attachments.

Shuttle planners were reportedly adjusting their e-mail routines to 
accommodate the new network limits, and the policy change wasn't 
expected to impact plans to launch the shuttle Discovery on its 12-day 
mission to the international space station. Liftoff is scheduled at 9:35 
p.m. ET Thursday, although unacceptable weather conditions could force a 

Representatives at NASA Headquarters told on Thursday that the 
new limits would block the receipt of Microsoft Word documents coming in 
to the space agency's core computer network as e-mail attachments. 
( is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

The limits were instituted Wednesday night in response to an advisory 
from Microsoft that such attachments could be used maliciously to gain 
unauthorized access to the network, said Grey Hautaluoma, a spokesman at 
NASA Headquarters.

"There is that concern right now," Hautaluoma said. "We're working 
around it.", an independent online news outlet, reported that a 
memo went out [1] from shuttle program manager Wayne Hale asking his 
team to assess whether the limits might have a "severe mission impact."

Jennifer Tharpe, an information specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space 
Center in Florida, told that the shuttle team determined the 
workarounds would be sufficient for operations during Discovery's 

It is a precautionary measure, Tharpe said of the e-mail limits. 
Typically, we dont discuss matters of IT security. But it has no 
operational impact on the shuttle launch. There are several workarounds, 
and its just not an issue.


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