Satellite Vulnerabilities

The following are links to notes from a presentation I gave at DefCon in July of 1996. I will be updating these pages with new information as time permits.


Since 1957 satellite communication systems have made enormous advances in capability and performance. Television, telephone, data and other services sent over satellites have become integral to our society. Unfortunately, security has not kept pace. Current systems are vulnerable to a variety of attacks, and future systems promise little improvement.

There is also a great deal of mis-information about satellite systems, how they work, and what is possible and not possible for determined opponents to achieve.


Click here for a list of some terms that are commonly used in the satellite industry.

US Geostationary Communication Satellites

This is a list of domestic communication satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

Global Positioning System

Here are some notes and facts on GPS and GLONASS navigation satellites.

Hypothetical Attacks

Here are just a few potential attacks against existing satellites.

It is worth noting that the most likely cause of damage to or loss of service from a satellite is the actual operator. For instance, AMSC partially damaged their own bird (AMSC-1) soon after launch by inadvertantly overloading one of the on-board amplifiers.

Comments to Dan Veeneman
Last revised January 23, 1997