China Might Be Hacking Our Satellites

NASA confirms 'suspicious activity' from a few years back
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2011 1:20 PM CDT
China Might Be Hacking Our Satellites
Hackers, possibly with ties to the Chinese military, have been snooping around US satellites.   (PRNewsFoto/Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)

(Newser) – Somebody's been poking around electronically in two US satellites, and, yes, we're looking at you, China. It seems hackers interfered with the satellites—a Landsat-7 and a Terra AM-1, both used for climate and terrain observation—four separate times in 2007 and 2008, reports Bloomberg, which got an early look at a congressional report on US-China ties due out next month. While the report doesn't come right out and explicitly blame China, it says the attacks bear all the hallmarks of being orchestrated by Beijing, most likely via a ground station in Norway.

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The report doesn't go into specifics on what, if anything, the hackers accomplished, but it warns that "such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions." Hackers could, for example, knock a satellite out of the sky or manipulate its transmissions. Talking Points Memo asked NASA about it, and the agency confirmed "two suspicious events" with the Terra satellite. It wouldn't comment on the Landsat or get into the China accusations. (Read more China stories.)

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