New Zealand Supercomputer Hacked

Attackers may have wanted access to surrounding network and remote connections.

The $12.7 million FitzRoy supercomputer housed at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) was reportedly the subject of an Internet attack. An unknown intruder apparently broke into the system last week. According to NIWA chief exec John Morgan, the Institute “immediately isolated” the computer as soon as the attack was detected (presumably meaning they unplugged the network cable).
At this time, it doesn’t appear that the attack reached beyond the supercomputer itself; however, forensics experts are still working on their report. Some news sources have speculated that the attacker was based in China, but NIWA has not confirmed the place of origin.
As impressive and expensive as scientific supercomputers are, the actual financial or espionage benefit of hacking into one seems unclear. The ultimate purpose might have been to gain access to other systems that happen to connect. This attack is a warning shot for the scientific community to pay attention and stay vigilant.