Bug makes military satellites a hacker target

2014-04-17 14:00
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Cape Town - Military satellites have security vulnerabilities that makes them liable to be hacked a report says.

According to report on the Guardian website, satellite systems developed by major contractors have serious weaknesses and may compromise military activities and troops safety.

The Guardian report named Cobham and Inmarsat in the UK, as well as Harris Corporation, Hughes and Iridium in the US that made satellite systems that were "easily hackable".

At the centre of the vulnerability are the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite receivers which provide location for teams.

According report from IOActive, these systems could be rendered ineffective by malicious software or the devices could be used to give troop locations to an enemy.

Heartbleed shock

Though companies have been warned about the vulnerability, it appears that only one company, Iridium is working on patching the bug in the software.

The software may also affect aeroplanes which also rely on similar navigation systems and a malicious person could disrupt flight communications.

It is also not beyond the bounds of possibility that criminals may exploit the bug to hold carriers to ransom.

This is the second major shock to computer security in a week after the Heartbleed vulnerability was exposed. It may potentially allow a hacker to steal encrypted data like personal financial information.

"Heartbleed will stand as a reminder that security is hard and that even simple bugs can have wide ranging and unexpected consequences," John Miller, Trustwave Security Research manager told News24.

The BGAN bug was reported in 2013 after it was found by Ruben Santamarta, an IOActive researcher.

However, given the manufacturing process for satellites, the vulnerability could be in equipment for the last two years, Santamarta warned.
- News24
Read more on:    technology  |  space  |  cybercrime
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