In an article entitled Cover Story: Hacking Cases Draw Attention To Satcom Vulnerabilities by Werner, D. (2012), Such intrusions allow unauthorized parties to have access to confidential and personal information. On the business side, hackers always look to steal financial information such as credits card numbers and transaction information. In governments and other organizations, hackers may be working for alien hostile parties that may be looking to cause harm to the homeland. In a recent Defense News article, the United States reported hacking incidence on two important environment satellites. The two satellites, Landsat 7 and Terra were reportedly hacked in 2007 and 2008 by unknown parties believed to have been form somewhere in the East . While they may not have caused any substantial damage to the multimillion US government investments, the incidents bought to the fold vulnerabilities of such satellite system. The dangers are further increased by some satellites of military grade that can have control over long distance weapons.
In the Landsat 7-Terra incident, both the government and industry were taken by surprise in the manner in which the said hackers gained access. The intruders created a highly specialized radio that could transmit control signals from somewhere in Norway. In one case of the attack, the intruders were able to gain access just as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which is in charge of the satellite would gain total control . However, in this incident the hackers did not issue any commands to the satellite. If the hackers were malicious and of ill intent, they would have simply turned the thermal detectors towards sun and the whole satellite would have been fried out in the process. Such an attack would also give hackers access to a geosynchronous communication satellites that facilitates satellite communication. Such access to sensitive information can be a good target for terrorists and other hostile countries towards the United States.
Moreover, a more concerning danger in satellite intrusion is the denial-of-service attacks that satellites companies have been reporting. In 2011, IntelsatONE one of the leading communication satellites company reported about 300,000 cases of denial-of-service attacks. Criminal organizations and other military agencies targeting at undermining America’s dominance enjoys such intrusions and cost these companies a lot of revenue losses.
Implications and solutions
The release of this news on intrusions into one of the most secure satellites systems is sure a wakeup call. In the same respect, a committee composed of several executives in the industry called U.S. National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) was tasked with reporting on threat of cyber security at a national level. In the 2009 report, the committee states that unauthorized commanding of networks tools such as routers, servers, satellites and databases would soon be one of the biggest threats the United States and other sensitive organization would soon be facing . Satellites were pointed out as possible targets for hackers.
Satellite systems now need to improve on safety measures used in designing and coding commands. This is due to the fact that the commands by hackers to access Landsat 7 and Terra were stronger and more recent. Industry developers must come with new ideas of blocking out hackers. National Communications Systems (2009), suggests that satellite system can employ several methods simultaneously.
NSTAC recommended a different approach to the responding such intrusions. In their report, the committee proposes the creation of a coordination center that facilitates sharing of cyber awareness among industry players. The coordination center would also pay a key role in institutionalizing time sensitive processes and procedures that would determine detection, prevention, response and mitigation of an incident of network intrusion in geospatial communication.
A third suggestion was developing some sought of elaborate government-industry collaboration in satellite security systems. The use of commercial satellites by the American Military in communication should at least have the government concerned in the security systems employed of such commercial satellites. In 2009, most of military communication, nearly 96 percent, relied on commercial satellites and thus input from the government was vital . A joint command center with the support of the government would bring other governments on board and thus united front towards fighting cyber crime.
Cyber security does not end at geospatial communication. Several other incidences are reported on databases and other forms of network solutions. Security measures need to be stringent and provide reliable measures in keeping out intruders. However, with ever changing technology, industry players must continually improve technology to match the changing industry terrain.
National Communications Systems. (2009). FISCAL YEAR 2009 REPORT: Ensuring Essential Communications for the Homeland. Washington: NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM.
Werner, D. (2012, Jan 23). Cover Story: Hacking Cases Draw Attention To Satcom Vulnerabilities. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from defensenews.com: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120123/C4ISR02/301230010/Cover-Story-Hacking-Cases-Draw-Attention-Satcom-Vulnerabilities