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RESEARCHERS have warned about security flaws in satellites that cybercriminals could exploit.
A team from the Ruhr University Bochum and the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security in Germany found that satellites lack adequate security measures.
The findings were published in a paper and examined the software used by three small satellites.
Around six kinds of security vulnerabilities were found on all three satellites – and 13 vulnerabilities were identified in total.
Some of the issues outlined by the researchers include a lack of encryption or authentication.
This could allow third parties to intercept and access data transmitted by satellites.
There are also no measures for who can communicate with the satellite systems.
Theoretically, this could result in an attacker assuming control of a satellite and directing it elsewhere.
“In conclusion, the simple nature of these vulnerabilities is a main reason for concern,” the paper reads.
Moreover, the findings show that little cybersecurity research has been conducted within the space domain over the last decade.
The team calls for more focus on satellites’ security to prevent malicious attacks in the future.
And as more space companies send satellites into low Earth orbit, the problems could only start if we don’t address them.
In fact, experts predict that in five or 10 years, somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 satellites will be in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Elon Musk’s Starlink alone has around 4,000 satellites orbiting Earth at altitudes of about 550km.
Several cybersecurity firms have rang the alarm on satellite vulnerabilities, but whether it will become a top priority for space experts remains to be seen.