Risk

10/28/2011
01:23 PM
50%
50%

Chinese Military Blamed For Hacking U.S. Satellites

Congressional investigators say two Earth observation satellites were hacked four times in recent years and it appears the Chinese military is responsible.

NASA, Microsoft Reveal Mars In Pictures
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: NASA, Microsoft Reveal Mars In Pictures
China's military was likely responsible for hacking two U.S. satellites on four separate occasions several years ago, activity that could pose major threats to these types of operations if more serious intrusions occur, according to a Congressional report.

Two satellites--one controlled by NASA and the other by the space agency and the U.S. Geological Survey--experienced interference several times between October 2007 and October 2008, according to a draft report by the the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The report is scheduled to be available publicly next month.

Specifically, Landsat-7--an Earth observation satellite managed by both parties--experienced 12 or more minutes of interference on Oct. 20, 2007. The incident was only discovered when the same satellite had a similar disruption again on July 23, 2008, according to the draft report.

Terra EOS, another Earth observation satellite managed solely by NASA, experienced two or more minutes of interference on June 20,2008, and then nine or more minutes of interference again on Oct. 22, 2008.

Hackers gained access to the satellites through Svalbard Satellite Station, a ground control station in Spitsbergen, Norway.

While these incidents did not cause any major harm or damage, this type of intrusion could pose a major threat to a satellite with "more sensitive functions," according to the draft report.

"For example, access to a satellite's controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite," according to the report. "The attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite's transmission."

If a hacker gained a "high level of access," it also could access information or imagery from the satellite's sensors, or manipulate other terrestrial or space-based networks used by the satellite, according to the report.

A spokesperson said the commission's draft report could be modified before the final report is made available.

The incidents mentioned in the report are not the first time the commission has brought to light China's hacking of U.S. government operations. A report by the commission released in November revealed an incident on April 8, 2010, when China Telecom diverted U.S. and other foreign Internet traffic through servers in China.

U.S. government activity affected in that incident included traffic going to and from U.S. .gov and .mil sites, including sites for the Senate, the four main armed services branches, the office of the Secretary of Defense, NASA, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Bprince
50%
50%
Bprince,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2011 | 3:45:21 PM
re: Chinese Military Blamed For Hacking U.S. Satellites
These types of incidents make me think about the definition of cyber-war. Assuming that this attack could be irrefutably proven to have originated from the Chinese military (highly unlikely for obvious reasons), at what point do hacks become sabotage, and attempts at sabotage become cyber-war?
Brian Prince, InformationWeek contributor
KNINJA000
50%
50%
KNINJA000,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2011 | 8:26:55 PM
re: Chinese Military Blamed For Hacking U.S. Satellites
So what's the problem? This type of attack isnt even dangerous, it's those meddling kids defacing corporate websites that we really need to thunderwack. At least that's how our leaders see it.
Microsoft Word Vuln Went Unnoticed for 17 Years: Report
Kelly Sheridan, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/14/2017
Companies Blindly Believe They've Locked Down Users' Mobile Use
Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/14/2017
121 Pieces of Malware Flagged on NSA Employee's Home Computer
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  11/16/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Managing Cyber-Risk
An online breach could have a huge impact on your organization. Here are some strategies for measuring and managing that risk.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.