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Satellite communications: They are a gateway for hackers

In mid-2018, there were about 792 satellites in orbit around the earth, while hundreds of other satellites were used to develop technology, navigation, Earth science, space science and Earth observation, according to a statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This growing proliferation of satellites poses increased risks and security concerns, as satellite communications are not so secure. Although satellite systems are critical to the scope of our global communications zone, they are also gaining the attention of hackers.

satellite communications hacker

Importance of satellite communications

Private and government agencies depend on satellites for important functions and services, such as navigation, communications and weather monitoring. Similarly, GPS technologies, mobile networks and electrical networks are constantly relying on satellite networks for mode their. IoT devices also use satellite internet services, such as HughesNet Internet, to work flawlessly. Any intentional or unintentional interruption in satellite services can create a ripple phenomenon, creating adverse financial losses or information leakage. This is particularly worrying because although for many organizations satellites are an integral part of their cyberspace ecosystem and usually do not have the direct power to regulate safety of the satellite.

Weaknesses in satellite communication

Satellites operate from ground-based systems, which are key targets for hackers looking for security vulnerabilities as a possibility of intrusion into the satellite system. The supposedly large number of its entry points systemic, including the internet, also makes it difficult to detect and mitigate cyber attacks. If hackers monitor satellite signals, they can access the system connected to the satellite. This will allow the hacker to invade an organization's entire network by infiltrating a satellite's ground station.

Another important vulnerability issue common to all satellites is their practice of using long-range telemetry to communicate with ground stations. Uplink and Downlink transmissions are performed with open telecommunications network security protocols that can be easily intercepted by Criminals in cyberspace. The IoT devices using satellite communications also provide additional entry points for hackers.

Even knowing all the security issues that an organization can face, many newcomers businesses or small businesses consider investing in cybersecurity to be costly and of minimal priority. Conventionally, the satellite sector has also lagged behind in the field of security cyberspace due to the requirement of a customized solution for the individual requirements of each satellite.

Cyber-risk mitigation on satellites

Cybersecurity risk mitigation techniques in satellite systems include the strong use of hardware in satellites, logical access to base stations, physical security and encryption of signals to monitor and control data transmitted to and from satellites. For commercial satellites, risk mitigation is done by federal agencies that protect data links and ground stations. However, federal services do not manage the security of control and surveillance links or ground stations, as the satellite service provider is responsible for them.

Some security recommendations for satellite communications

Here are some suggestions on how to look or get an appointment for private and public satellite security:

  • Consider information security as a top priority for your body and allocate the required budget for it
  • Apply strong encryption for all data transmitted to and from the satellite
  • Create a cybersecurity policy and share the requirements for the organization
  • Use suggested authentication methods
  • Protect all your IoT devices and ensure their security

Even if you follow all of the above mitigation and safety precautions, there is always the risk of hacking due to a plethora of device entry points connected to satellite communication systems.


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Teo Ehc
Teo Ehc
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