[NBCCHICARGO.COM] A cyber security expert tells NBC5 Investigates he has found a way to hack into the satellite communications systems used in multiple industries.

“These devices are wide open right now,” said Ruben Santamarta, a security consultant based in Madrid, Spain with IOActive.

"For the aerospace sector we can disrupt satellite communications, [and] potentially modify the data that goes through those channels," said Santamarta

“For the aerospace sector we can disrupt satellite communications, [and] potentially modify the data that goes through those channels,” said Santamarta. Image: nbcchicargo.com

Pilots, ship captains and military personnel rely on satellite networks to communicate when there are no phone lines or wireless networks available.

“If someone can see the password or that user name it’s over,” he added. “Those vulnerabilities can be exploited to remotely compromise those devices.

Santamarta said he used something called reverse engineering — or decoding — to hack satellite communications equipment used in aerospace, maritime and military industries.

“In the military sector they use satellite terminals for combat units,” said Santamarta. “They normally encrypt the radio [transmissions] they send. But we can disrupt the satellite communications channel so we can prevent combat units [from asking] for help if they are being attacked.”

And in the maritime sector, satellite communications are used to send and receive vital information that affects the safety of the crew.

“If they are being attacked by terrorists, or they are suffering fire, they can send a distress call,” he said. “But we found we can modify the firmware in some of those terminals, so we can prevent a crew from sending a distress call.”

Santamarta recently published a 25-page report and went public with his findings at Defcon 22 – the largest hacking conference in the world – held earlier this month in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“For the aerospace sector we can disrupt satellite communications, [and] potentially modify the data that goes through those channels,” said Santamarta. “In some cases you need physical access to compromise the devices we analyzed, but in other cases you can use Wi-Fi or the entertainment network to access that device.”

His research took place in a lab setting and has not been tested on an actual commercial plane. But his findings have raised concerns in the aviation industry.

Read the full story at NBCCHICARGO.OM here….

 


NBCCHICARGO.COM
21st August, 2014


 

 

 

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