Risk
10/28/2011
01:23 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0972
Published: 2014-08-01
The kgsl graphics driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not properly prevent write access to IOMMU context registers, which allows local users to select a custom page table, and consequently write ...

CVE-2014-2627
Published: 2014-08-01
Unspecified vulnerability in HP NonStop NetBatch G06.14 through G06.32.01, H06 through H06.28, and J06 through J06.17.01 allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges for NetBatch job execution via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3009
Published: 2014-08-01
The GDS component in IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management - Collaborative Edition 10.0 through 11.0 and InfoSphere Master Data Management Server for Product Information Management 9.0 and 9.1 does not properly handle FRAME elements, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to conduct ph...

CVE-2014-3302
Published: 2014-08-01
user.php in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server 1.5(.1.131) and earlier does not properly implement the token timer for authenticated encryption, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a crafted URL, aka Bug ID CSCuj81708.

CVE-2014-3534
Published: 2014-08-01
arch/s390/kernel/ptrace.c in the Linux kernel before 3.15.8 on the s390 platform does not properly restrict address-space control operations in PTRACE_POKEUSR_AREA requests, which allows local users to obtain read and write access to kernel memory locations, and consequently gain privileges, via a c...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio