Friday, October 28, 2011

China suspect in US satellite interference: report

NASA satellites were interfered with four separate times in 2007 and 2008, possibly by the Chinese military, according to a draft of an upcoming report for the US Congress.

The latest draft of the report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the computer hackers behind the interference gained the ability to issue commands to one of the satellites on two occasions.

The targeted satellites are used for observation of the earth's climate and terrain, according to the report to be submitted to Congress on November 16. A copy of the latest draft of the report was obtained by AFP on Thursday.

It said the account of the interference with the satellites came from a May 2011 briefing for the Commission by the US Air Force.

The hackers appear to have exploited the information systems of the Svalbard Satellite Station (SvalSat), a commercially operated satellite ground station in Spitsbergen, Norway, to gain access to the satellites, the report said.

SvalSat relies on the Internet for data access and file transfers, it said, citing a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration report.

On October 20, 2007, Landsat-7, a US earth observation satellite jointly managed by NASA and the US Geological Survey, experienced 12 or more minutes of interference, the report said.

Landsat-7 experienced another 12 or more minutes of interference on July 23, 2008, the report said.

It said that on June 20, 2008, Terra EOS AM-1, a NASA-managed program for earth observation, experienced two or more minutes of interference, it said.

It said the hackers behind the interference with Terra EOS AM-1 "achieved all steps required to command the satellite but did not issue commands." more