A hacking collective dubbed the New World Hackers claims it targeted the email servers of US space agency Nasa. The claimed hack was part of an operation to 'expose truth' about terrorist group Isis, also known as the Islamic State.
The hackers responsible posted screenshots to social media that appeared to show the aftereffects of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on both Nasa's primary website and its email servers however, if legitimately impacted, the services were only offline for a short period of time.
DDoS tools typically send a surge of internet traffic - usually with the help of a botnet - towards a targeted website server with the aim of taking it offline. Such tools are frequently used by hacktivists for online protests and are commonly purchased cheaply on the dark web.
One of the individuals behind the New World Hackers pseudonym told IBTimes UK the incident was an attempt to expose internal Nasa documents hidden in the email servers of the agency.
"Nasa has been hiding files for years and they tell no one about what is hidden in their email or server," the hackers claimed. "They are hiding some information on Isis that we have recently breached into a bit. We [were] stopped after getting half way into their system, but we did see a few things that gives you the chills. We want Nasa to release the information on Isis they are holding back."
At the time of writing, all Nasa website systems are online and functioning.
The hacks on Donald Trump
The targeting of Nasa's computer systems was reportedly part of a wider campaign against alleged government cover-ups titled #OpCensorship. According to the anonymous hacker, it was also practice forplanned cyberattacks against presidential hopeful Donald Trump scheduled for April Fool's Day.
"We see that Donald Trump has weak security measures on his website," the hackers said. "I could tell you right off the bat all of the IPs on 3 of his websites. I'm not afraid to leak [stolen data], if he manages to somehow change his backend server IP we will find out again in a few minutes."
The hacker indicated the team will attempt to infiltrate the website databases and leak whatever it finds. If this fails, a DDoS attack to bring down Trump's website is also planned.
When asked about the motivations for the group's ongoing attacks, the hacker said: "It is to expose the truth." However, like most explanations provided by hacking collectives for why they carry out cyber-operations, there remains little indication of what this 'truth' may be.
Nasa has long been a target for hackers, hacktivists and cybercriminals. Earlier this year, a collective using the title AnonSec claimed to have broken into classified computer systems and taken control of a drone – a claim that was strongly refuted by the space agency.
The New World Hackers have had some 'successful' operations in the past and are known online for the use of persistent DDoS attacks. Previously, the group has claimed responsibility for attacks against Microsoft's Xbox online service, the servers of BBC News and the official website of Donald Trump's US election campaign.