The satellite communications that ships, planes and the military use to connect to the internet are vulnerable to hackers that, in the worst-case scenario, could carry out “cyber-physical attacks”, turning satellite antennas into weapons that operate, essentially, like microwave ovens.
According to research presented at the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas, continues Alex Hern in The Guardian, a number of popular satellite communication systems are vulnerable to the attacks, which could also leak information and hack connected devices. The attacks, which are merely a nuisance for the aviation sector, could pose a safety risk for military and maritime users, the research claims.
Ruben Santamarta (below), a researcher for the information security firm IOActive, carried out the study, building on research he presented in 2014. “The consequences of these vulnerabilities are shocking,” Santamarta said. “Essentially, the theoretical cases I developed four years ago are no longer theoretical.”
The attack works by connecting to the satellite antenna from the ground, through the internet, and then using security weaknesses in the software that operates the antenna to seize control.
From there, the potential damage varies. At the very least, the attack offers the ability to disrupt, intercept or modify all communications passed through the antenna, allowing an attacker to, for instance, eavesdrop on emails sent through an in-flight wifi system, or attempt to launch further hacking attacks against devices connected to the satellite network.
Source: FS – All – Science – News 2
Today's 'Planet Earth Report' –Black Hat Cyber Attacks: “Can Morph Satellite Antennas Into Microwave Oven-like Weapons