Security Experts Develops Satellite Hacking Device for $1,000

A researcher at security firm Synack has discovered how to hack GlobalStar satellite tracking technology using a $1,000 device composed of a satellite antenna, a software defined radio transceiver and an amplifier.

A security researcher has discovered how to hack satellite tracking technology using a $1,000 device made of off the shelf components.

In his research, Colby Moore, who works for security firm Synack, focused his attention on systems developed by GlobalStar, which provides satellite tracking devices to individuals who want to track their assets, hplusmagazine.com reports.

The devices can be used for various purposes, including monitoring industrial critical infrastructure such as pipelines, or to track hikers and other adventurers.

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The GlobalStar devices rely on the Simplex data network, which is used to transmit data between tracking devices and satellites, according to Moore.

The researcher was able to intercept communication data in transit by building a device composed of a satellite antenna, a software defined radio transceiver and an amplifier that allows the tool to capture data sent by GlobalStar transmitters to the satellites.

Moore’s device allows attackers to see the position of every satellite tracker, and can allow hackers to hijack and spoof the data, tricking the trackers and making them believe to be in a different location, hplusmagazine.com reports.

The hacking device is able to track devices in a range of several miles; however, Moore plans to extend the range up to 2,000 miles.

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The repercussions on security could be serious. For example, a criminal can track an armored car and learn its regular patterns, prompting a hacker to hijack the GlobalStar tracking device, disable the satellite transmitter, and use another transmitter to show to the company that the armored car is on its regular track when in reality the vehicle has been hijacked and taken somewhere else, according to Moore.

Moore says he reported the flaws to GlobalStar more than six months ago without receiving any reply.

However, GlobalStar released the following statement:

“Engineers would know quickly if any person or entity was hacking our system in a material way, and this type of situation has never been an issue to date.”

Moore plans to release the hardware specifications of his device, as well as the code he developed, during his presentation during the Black Hat security conference.

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