December 6, 2018

The Wank Worm: How NASA Got Hacked

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

Before WikiLeaks, there was the Wank Worm. In this week’s episode, we tell you the story of how Australian hackers infiltrated NASA, just months after the country was hooked up to the internet in 1989. Joel Werner, host of Sum of All Parts, helps us tell this story, along with cybersecurity researcher Dr. Suelette Dreyfus. 

Check out the transcript here:

UPDATE 12/07/18: An earlier version of this episode stated that Galileo's engines ran on nuclear power. We've removed this line, as it was Galileo's electrical systems, not the propulsion system, which ran on nuclear power.

Selected references: 

  • The original Sum of All Parts episode about Phoenix and Electron 
  • Suelette’s book, co-authored by Julian Assange, about the early Australian hacking movement, Underground
  • An in-depth reference on Hacktivism 


Original story produced by Joel Werner, for Sum of All Parts, from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Science Vs is Wendy Zukerman, Rose Rimler, Meryl Horn and Odelia Rubin. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Mixed and sound designed by Emma Munger. Music written by Emma Munger and Bobby Lord. Our fact checker is Michelle Harris. A huge thanks to Alex Goldman, Jason Scott, Chris Avram, Prof Graham Farr, Barbara Ainsworth, the Zukerman Family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.