Hackers targeted US government satellites, Congressional report claims

It sounds like the stuff of James Bond – foreign hackers managing to gain unauthorised access to US satellites as they orbit 700 km above the Earth, and interfere with their controls.

Maybe, if things were turning really bad, the hackers could even “damage or destroy the satellite.”

Well, if the upcoming annual report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission is to believed, maybe this isn’t just the imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, a Congressional commision report to be released next month will reveal that hacker interfered with the operations of two US government satellites in 2007 and 2008.

The hackers, who were said to have gained access to the satellites via a ground station in Spitsbergen, Norway, are said to have interfered with the running of the Landsat-7 and Terra AM-1 Earth observation satellites which examine the planet’s climate and terrain. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the report claims Landsat-7 experienced “12 or more minutes of interference in October 2007 and July 2008”.

NASA’s Terra AM-1 satellite, meanwhile, is said to have suffered interference for two minutes in June 2008 and nine minutes in October of that year. According to the draft report, “the responsible party achieved all steps required to command the satellite.”

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