Home Articles Hacking Satellites Is A Global Threat Of The 21st Century

Hacking Satellites Is A Global Threat Of The 21st Century


Today, there are more than 6,500 satellites in orbit around the Earth. Only more than half of them are active. The rest is debris that spins around until it burns or falls back down. Recently, the number of satellites has increased dramatically, causing concern for scientists.

The SpaceX Starlink constellation alone was replenished with 989 vehicles last year. At the same time, the use of satellite technology can improve various areas of our lives. So, we use them to communicate with each other and build routes while traveling. Also, satellite technology is increasingly important in the economic sphere. With their help, we carry out money transfers, monitor agricultural production, analyze big data, etc.

The Importance Of Satellites

We are currently witnessing a revolution of small satellites or smallsats. These devices are used for Internet access, storage and transmission of information, mobile communications, and remote sensing. Unlike the previous generation, smallsats are much more innovative.

They use advanced electronics, sensors, artificial intelligence technologies, etc. The demand for such services is only growing as many industries benefit from satellite images for Earth observation by using them for political and commercial purposes to monitor farmlands, oceans, urban areas, and much more.

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The storage and transmission of valuable information using satellite technology make them a target for cybercrime, including cyber economic espionage. Therefore, the issue of protecting data from intruders and forming security systems for orbital devices is becoming increasingly urgent.

The Cyber Threats To Satellites

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are not sitting idly by either. Their methods are constantly evolving. They can hack software on ground systems, jam satellite signals, take control of satellites, and so on.

Characteristically, most hackers are self-taught. On the one hand, this speaks of great talent; on the other hand, it indicates creative thinking, which in this case, is very dangerous. Cybercriminals seriously threaten ordinary users, government, military, and commercial structures. For example, cybercriminals can disrupt air transport or traffic, steal ordinary people’s bank deposits or declassify taxpayers’ data.

New technologies create new forms of cyber threats. Over the past few years, there have been attacks on gas pipelines and nuclear power plants. Accidents at such facilities can cause catastrophic consequences for the entire region. Consequently, cybercrime has reached a global level of threat.

In particular, cyber blackmail can be used by terrorists. For example, they can capture flight altitude data and provide false information to an airliner’s autopilot, resulting in a disaster. Similarly, cybercriminals can manipulate cruise ships or even warships.

Also, a severe threat is possibly intercepting control over the satellite. So, hackers can change their flight trajectory to create an accident, for example, damaging the international space station. And if we are talking about a large satellite, it can destroy settlements or damage critical infrastructure if it crashes into the Earth.

Some experts predict that the rapid development of technology shortly will allow hackers to fight cybersecurity systems even more effectively. Therefore, cybercrime services must be one step ahead, which is a challenging and costly task. Often it is unbearable for an individual company or even the state. At the same time, the scale of threats is developing so rapidly that a catastrophe in one region can negatively affect other parts of the world.

Thus, the fight against cybercrime requires national, sectoral, and international coordination. Only by joint efforts is it possible to fight back against cybercrime. Moreover, ensuring cybersecurity outside the Earth is becoming more and more urgent. Although satellites pose a particular environmental threat, they significantly improve our lives. Therefore, since we cannot eliminate them, we must optimize their use.

The creation of smallsats is the first step towards the improvement of such devices. At the same time, it is critically important to ensure satellite safety, as it is the key to developing technologies, improving the quality of our lives, and increasing production capacities in various areas.