In a world where hacking has evolved into a mainstream fascination, the current focus has shifted beyond the digital realm and into the cosmos. People are fervently engaging in a new kind of hacking – one that involves intercepting data from satellites orbiting high above. The virtual environment is flooded with stories of individuals who, armed with homemade contraptions and a dash of ingenuity, claim to have "hacked" into the transmissions of satellites. But the question echoes: can it truly be that straightforward?
August 17, 2023
Gabe Emerson demonstrated in his video the methods of successfully grabbing images from the new Russian satellite (Meteor M2-3) using a homemade cyberdeck and a Raspberry Pi with a QFH antenna and a linear amplifier.
We asked an expert opinion of Mr Andrii Kolesnyk, former Space Science & Innovation at the State Space Agency of Ukraine, to comment on why this was achieved so easily.
“All low-earth orbit meteorological satellites of the countries within the World Meteorological Organization have standardized modes of direct transmission, allowing users to receive images within the satellite's visibility zone from their location on Earth. The frequencies open to everyone are 137 MHz, 1.7 GHz, and 8.2 GHz.
The 137 MHz channel (analog format Automatic Pictures Transmitted (APT)) is narrow and carries a 'simplified' image, which can be received using a regular whip antenna. On 1.7 GHz and 8.2 GHz, a 'detailed' image is transmitted in digital format (High-Resolution Pictures Transmitted (HRPT)), requiring tracking antennas for reception. The information in these channels is not encrypted, and if any issues arise, the transmission can be simply disabled, either entirely or for coordinates corresponding to 'closed' regions.
Currently, the Meteor M2-3 satellite is undergoing flight and design tests, so it is practically 'open' - meaning that any potential restrictions have not been applied yet”.
Amid the fervor surrounding claims of intercepting satellite data, doubts arise about the ease of such endeavors. While Gabe Emerson's demonstration has captured widespread attention, considering the intricate nature of satellite communication and potential security implications, it becomes crucial to view it through a lens of critical analysis.
Author: Nessa, Cyber Journalist
Photo: by Aleksandar Pasaric/Pexels
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