Japanese Space Agency Says Rocket Information Was Stolen by Computer Virus

On Friday, Japan's space agency said that information on one of its newest rockets was stolen from a desktop computer by someone using a computer virus.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency said that the virus in a computer at its Tsukuba Space Center, which is located northeast of Tokyo, was found to be secretly collecting data and sending it outside of the space agency. The agency said that the virus was detected by antivirus software on November 21. Following the discovery of the virus, an emergency sweep for viruses was conducted and showed that no other computers at the center had been infected.

The agency said that it was unclear if the virus was a cyberattack. Recently, however, Japanese defense companies have been targets of similar information-stealing viruses, some of which had been traced back to China.

Data stolen from the space agency included information about the Epsilon, a solid-fuel rocket that is still under development. The Epsilon is intended to launch satellite and space probes, but solid-fuel rockets of that size can also have dual use in the military as an intercontinental ballistic missile. The Epsilon will also feature new technology that will allow to be remotely controlled by a personal computer. Its first launch is scheduled for Fall 2013.