By the Webroot Threat Team
Two of NASA’s satellites were hacked during 2007 and 2008, according to a draft report to be officially released later this month. According to the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the ‘birds’, which focused on Earth observation for tasks such as climate monitoring, were reportedly pwned by the attackers, to the extent that they could have taken total control of the systems, had they wished.
The Landsat-7 earth observation satellite was hacked into for twelve minutes, during October 2007 and July 2008. The Terra AM-1 earth observation satellite was disrupted for two minutes in June 2008, and attackers enjoyed another nine-minute ride in October that year.
It’s all a bit scary, isn’t it? Mostly, security professionals focus on botnets, auction scams and spam. We rarely if ever cast our eyes and our thoughts skywards – and there are a lot of things floating around up there.
- 443 were launched by the US
- 101 were launched by Russia
- 69 were launched by China
These satellites perform a broad spectrum of functions, ranging from scientific research, commercial/business purposes, and various military functions.
These are the ones that are known about; there are doubtless a few unclassified birds up there, too, probably with powerful lenses, among other things. With valuable data on everything from commercial inventory to ATM data flying around, how safe are all these things from attack?
Not very, as it turns out. One of the biggest problems for satellite manufacturers is that once a bird is up there, it isn’t that easy to nip up and patch a piece of equipment.