The Air Force will invite hackers to try to hijack a satellite at the next Defcon

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Wouldn’t it be more fun to turn the cameras towards the sun?


Even more fun to hack an entirely different satellite than expected. Steal a spy sat to take pictures of Area 51.


This is something that worries me a lot. We plan to take on the whole world (but primarily underresourced insurgencies), but other countries only plan to take us on. If I were one of those countries, my number one priority would be offensive tactical hacking. Interfere with American navigation and we’re dead in the water. The Iranians claimed to have hacked that drone out of the sky, and a few years ago our destroyers kept crashing in the Pacific. The Russians certainly hacked some drones we gave to the Ukrainians. The Russians also hacked an app Ukrainian artillerymen were using, to lethal effect for the Ukrainians.

And yesterday it came out that a German company has developed radar that can track F-35s, so there’s a trillion dollars down the tubes. We haven’t even ironed out all the bugs, nor produced even a fraction of the numbers we wanted.

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Can’t help feeling that this could end badly…


I mean its something that does already happen, Iran, NK, China, Russia, and ironically Israel (they’re known for spying on their allies). It does surprise me that the military hasn’t been more active about their cybersecurity, considering a lot of high profile and embarrassing hacks that have happened in the past 5 years or so.


And their offensive capabilities, as well. I saw a claim recently that our offensive hacking strategy is to penetrate systems and then sit quietly inside them, in case they’re one day needed. I can’t help thinking that’s everyone’s strategy. Are the Chinese already sitting inside our satellites, seeing what we see?


Patching vulnerabilities in embedded systems in orbit on running systems is probably pretty tricky. While I’m sure they can upload new firmware it’s not a fast process since you have to be really really sure you aren’t going to accidentally brick the thing.

Well that sound like a fun old time.

Since this deals with satellites and whatnot, shouldn’t this be handled by the US Space Force?

Provided one can get through the channels to talk to the satellite it would most likely be easy.
There are some old not updatable systems out there (I sorta supported some for a bit) because once that thing is up in space patching much less updating to a new kernel/OS is nigh impossible so you get a frozen version on the ground as that is what will work with the thing you are talking to up in space.


They accidentally hack into the wrong satellite…

Seems like you could put a computer in the next room and just tell everyone it’s a satellite.


Just make sure to get your time delay right. Remember ‘Capricorn one’.

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To be fair on the last point, F-35s (and I assume F-22s and some similar low-radar-observable aircraft) are mounted with radar reflectors to make them easier to spot with commercial navigation radar to avoid midair collisions. If they were to be used in anger the reflectors would be removed.

Multiple world navies do similar with warships- they’re equipped with AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) like civilian shipping to avoid collisions during transit (in theory, reality may vary). The ships can turn these systems off when they’re entering their area of operations.

This would be awesome if it wasn’t for the fact that DEF CON has been cancelled:

They could knock FoxNews sats off of the air. That’d be something worthwhile no?


Sure it is…


they can’t get competent engineers because they all smoke the devils lettuce. and at the meta level, the type of person who cares about personal freedom, individuality, etc usually won’t give out their phone number at the grocery store, let alone fill out an sf-86.

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