US Military Admits Space Weapons Are Surprisingly Vulnerable to Amateur Hackers
You can do your best to protect against it, but hackers and cyber warfare are always a threat, even in space. Even the US military admits it can't adequately protect its own defense technology and new space weapons.
According to SpaceNews, the US military officials are worried about the modern space race and cybersecurity, specifically when it comes to Russia and China and the ability for hackers to learn about satellite capabilities and counter them.
"We've yielded an awful lot of ground to the Russians and the Chinese in space security," said Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva at a meeting this week. "Space is really an open architecture. If you have enough hobbyists with telescopes, you can detect all the satellites in low-Earth orbit. If you know where all those hobbyists are and you can precisely map their GPS coordinates—and you can map the time they saw the object you're actually interested in—you can develop a reasonable detection and targeting system."
Both countries are reportedly developing jammers and signal scramblers to target US satellites, which, added to the fact that tracking those satellites are easier to target, poses a serious threat. Selva added that both Russia and China have "elegant radar systems and elegant space detection systems" which are more than what's necessary to detect where US satellites are.
To try and counter this, Selva says that the Pentagon has to be "very disciplined about what we say regarding space. There are things we should never talk about...What are you going to do when the enemy knows everything about you simply because they can exploit big data?" Selva referenced the recent incident where the names and heart rates of soldiers on US military bases were made public thanks to the Strava fitness app and GPS data. "Their motive wasn't evil," said Selva. "If you can map the global universe of that data, some really interesting things come out." But recording fitness data and tracking satellites are very different.