According to informational security company Synack, vulnerabilities in frequently used satellite communication networks could result in hackers intercepting sensitive information. More exactly, the GlobarStar network, which is used for example by banks for tracking money transports and in general for high security assets, transmits information through a type of signal which can be intercepted and decoded with the help of special equipment.
This would make it possible for hackers to track locations of valuable transports, ranging from armored money trucks even to nuclear transports. They could also fiddle with the system to make it indicate that a hijacked transport would still be en-route to its destination; eliminating the possibility of any effective response and giving a large time frame for the hijackers to disappear.
Of course, this sounds a little bit like the type of stunts pulled off in Hollywood blockbusters. While it is difficult to pull off – as it requires expensive equipment and also a ground team which can overpower the transport (bear in mind that valuable transports will also be heavily guarded on ground most of the time), but they are possible, as demonstrated by the recent I-95 gold transport robbery.
However, this security flaw could also be used simply for malicious pranks, as hackers could very well offer false coordinates to the system as to make the monitoring parties think the transport was hijacked. False alarms, particularly regarding high-value transports, cost time, money and could even be used as a good diversion plan.
The number of possibilities for hackers who get access to the satellite network ramps up though when you consider that satellite tracking technology isn’t used only for transports. Satellite tracking has multiple uses – such as monitoring engineering projects where live monitoring could otherwise be impossible. A hacker with access to an oil rig system could provoke massive damage that way if he was intent on doing it.
Synack, through the voice of special activities manager Colby Moore, declared that while GlobalStar was receptive to them when they pointed out the flaw, the company has not as of yet offered any viable plan to fix the vulnerabilities. Moore thinks that the discussion about high tier satellite security has been avoided by researchers due to its complex nature and lack of request, but hopes that the situation will change by bringing it to the forefront in next week’s conference and the near future.
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