Updated: Mar 8
In light of recent events, SpaceX Starlink satellites have been repositioned for usage in Ukraine as growing fears emerge over an internet blackout due to destruction and cyberattacks.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a SpaceX satellite system that provides internet coverage for most areas of the Earth. A satellite constellation is a cluster of Starlink satellites that form a network.
Can Starlink be Hacked?
As SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, tweets:
The question stands- How probable is it for a Starlink satellite to become victim to a cyber-attack?
Attackers can jam satellites by sending conflicting signals to a satellite via an uplink or downlink jam.
Uplink Jam- The connection from a ground station to a satellite.
Downlink Jam- The connection from the satellite to the ground station.
A lot of data gets transmitted to a satellite from a satellite dish. This is a significant risk as attackers can send malicious data to a satellite and steal personal data. Furthermore, ground stations that connect to a satellite have the potential to be taken over. If attackers can gain access to the server hosting the satellite, they will be able to manipulate files and gain control of it.
Unfortunately, satellite jamming can be done relatively easily at a low cost, and the potential for a cyber-attack is high. However, cyber defenders can use some measures to prevent both from happening.
Prevention Against Satellite Jamming and Cyber-Attacks
-Data sent to and from a satellite should be encrypted and authenticated. The authentication would help to prevent attackers from targeting a satellite.
-Satellite Systems can be reviewed and monitored frequently to look for any tampering that may have occurred.
-Ground defenses can be used to protect satellite ground stations, so that uplink jam attacks occur less frequently.
- Reactive measures can be put in place to either end a jam or gain back access to a satellite in case of a cyber-attack.