Warning satellite of the security bugs


The Satellite systems used on aircraft, ships and by the military contain bugs that could allow hackers to take control of them, a security researcher has warned.

The worst of the bugs could allow attackers to overload the satellite antenna for damage to the equipment or harm operators.

And other could be used to betray the exact location of military forces in crisis areas, the researcher said.

IOActive, who found the bugs, said it was working with manufacturers to harden the facilities against attack.Backdoor access

“The consequences of these vulnerabilities are shocking,” said Ruben Santamarta, IOActive, in a statement explaining some of his findings.

Details of the vulnerabilities will be presented later Thursday to the security conference Black Hat in Las Vegas.

The broadest group of devices vulnerable to attacks have been used on commercial aircraft, Mr Santamarta said of the new technology website eWeek.

Some of these vulnerabilities affecting aircraft required an attacker to be on this flight, he said, but he had also found “hundreds” of vulnerable devices that could be accessed remotely via the internet.

None of these faults has given an attacker access to the avionics, flight control systems, however.

Other problems have been found in satellite ground stations, on ships and in american military bases, Mr Santamarta said.

On the aircraft systems, the hackers could gain control of the satellite receivers using eavesdropping or damage to the antenna by the pumping of its power output, ” he said.

Mr. Santamarta had gained access to satellite-based communication systems via backdoors in their code control, ” he said.

The back door had not been inserted maliciously, but was probably added during software development.

Although, in some cases, the devices used could not be updated with a secure software.

Instead, the entire device will have to be exchanged for a more modern version of running less hackable code.

IOActive, says it delayed publishing details of its findings so that manufacturers act to cancel the bugs.

And the latest research builds on the work done by Mr Santamarta in 2014, the first, dug up the potential problems with satellite communication systems, and devices.