The hacking presented no major security threats because the site does not contain any classified information, officials said. But the incident is another example of a hacking attack on government, pranks that have drawn international publicity.
In December, the U.S. military's Web sites, such as the ones belonging to the Air Force, were attacked. Hackers brought down the Central Intelligence Agency's Web site in September, and a month earlier they tampered with the Justice Department's site.
In NASA's case, the hackers--calling themselves H4G1S--posted a political manifesto that criticized the commercial use of the Net, an agency spokesman said. It was up for about 30 minutes before the agency took the page down. CNET was tipped off to the prank by an email earlier today.
NASA, the agency spokesman noted, was one of pioneer founders of the Net for research, not commercial purposes, so he called the criticism unwarranted. He said the agency was investigating the case.
Breaking into government computers violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 "and can result in administrative, disciplinary or criminal proceedings," states a warning on the Defense Technical Information home page.