Hackers have hijacked a decommissioned satellite and used it to broadcast films.
The feat was demonstrated at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas over the weekend by the hacking collective Shadytel.
The group used a $300 piece of equipment called a Hack RF to connect with the Canadian Anik F1R satellite, which was operated by Telesat Canada before it became defunct.
With access to an abandoned upling facility, the hackers decided to “have some fun” with the satellite, which is currently in geostationary orbit roughly 35,786km (22,236 miles) above the Earth.
“Satellites basically just reflect whatever signal is sent up to them,” Shadytel member Karl Koscher said during a presentation at Def Con, first reported by Motherboard.
“If you’re loud enough, and if there’s another user on that transponder, you have to shout louder than them, but if there’s no one there, [the satellite] will just repeat it.”
The group used the Anik F1R to stream classic hacker movies like WarGames, as well as set up a phone conference link.
The satellite was decommissioned in 2020 and was set to go into a so-called “graveyard orbit” before it was hijacked.
A separate hack on Starlink satellites was presented at the hacking conference, with a security researcher from Belgium able to gain access to SpaceX’s space internet network using a handmade circuit board.
No damage was done to the Starlink network, or to the decommissioned satellite, though malicious hacks on satellites can prove devastating.
Earlier this year, Russian hackers targeted the US satellite firm Viasat with a destructive malware that wiped all data on the system. Just hours later, Russian troops invaded Ukraine under a partial comms blackout, as the Ukrainian military relied on Viasat’s services for control of it its armed forces. yahoo! news