White hat hackers broadcast hacker lectures and movies via decommissioned satelliteSecurity Affairs

Hackers have taken over a decommissioned satellite and broadcast hacking lectures and pirate movies.

During the last edition of the DEF CON hacking conference held in Las Vegas, the group of white hat hackers Shadytel showed how to take control of a satellite in geostationary orbit. The group used a satellite called Anik F1Rwho was fired in 2020.

The group was authorized to perform the hack and the satellite they had hacked had been taken out of service, meaning it will send to a graveyard orbit. Graveyard, also called junk orbit, is an orbit far from common operational orbits. Some satellites are moved to these orbits at the end of their operational life to avoid colliding with spacecraft and operational satellites.

One of the band members, Karl Koscher, explained that they had access to an unused uplink facility which included the hardware to connect to a satellite.

“[Koscher] said they also had a license to use the uplink and a lease on the satellite’s transponder, which is a unit that opens a channel between the receive and transmit antennas. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai wrote on the motherboard.

The hacker group was able to broadcast the talks to the ToorCon hacking conference last year with pirate movies like WarGames.

Koscher and his group have highlighted the risks that threat actors, once they gain access to an uplink facility, could take over decommissioned satellites to conduct malicious activities.

Koscher explained that it is quite easy to find the hardware to connect the satellite, the group used an RF hack software-defined radio device capable of transmitting or receiving radio signals from 1 MHz to 6 GHz. The software is cheap, it only costs around $300.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security cases hacking, satellite)

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