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The intercepting of broadcast data and taking over of the spacecraft will be shown by ethical hackers.
In what has been termed as the world’s first ethical satellite hacking exercise, experts in cybersecurity will demonstrate the procedure of capturing control of a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite.
Earth-Spacecraft Messaging is in Danger
At the CYSAT conference in Paris, an ensemble of specialists from the business Thales and members of the ESA team will showcase the attack scenario.
The attack targets OPS-SAT, a shoebox-sized nanosatellite deployed in December 2019 and equipped with “an experimental computer 10 times more powerful than any modern ESA spacecraft.”
The goal of OPS-SAT is to eliminate the dangers involved with real-time testing of flight control systems. Thales stated that ESA had access to the satellite’s systems throughout the exercise so that it could resume regular activities.
The task aims to increase understanding about possible risks while also boosting the safety of satellites and space programs in general, covering both terrestrial segments and orbital systems.
While the exact nature of the Thales demo is unknown, the company claims that in a standard computer hacking, its team was able to capture a number of systems used to manage the demo satellite.
Space Cyber Security
According to the enterprise, pentesters used “standard access rights to the satellite to gain control over its application environment” and afterwards took advantage of weaknesses and introduced harmful software into the satellite’s systems.
The breach allowed them to steal data transmitted back to Earth, specifically by modifying photos captured by the satellite’s camera, as well as achieving other purposes, such as masking particular regions on satellite photographs while concealing their operations to avoid discovery by the Agency.
The showcase occurred because specialists have become more interested in space cybersecurity in general.