Last Call for SATCOM Security

Conference:  BlackHat USA 2018



The presentation discusses the vulnerabilities of SATCOM products and demonstrates how compromised devices can be turned into RF weapons. The focus is on the aviation, maritime, and military sectors, with different metrics for each sector. The presentation concludes that there is no safety risk for aviation, but there are security risks for all sectors.
  • SATCOM products have weak security posture and are vulnerable to attacks
  • Compromised SATCOM devices can be turned into RF weapons
  • Different metrics for aviation, maritime, and military sectors
  • No safety risk for aviation, but security risks for all sectors
The presentation gives examples of how compromised SATCOM devices can be used to manipulate the positioning of antennas on a cruise ship or cargo vessel, and how they can be used to transmit to other aircraft. It also explains that due to compensating controls and proper mitigations, there is no safety risk for aviation despite the vulnerabilities of SATCOM products.


In 2014, we took to the stage and presented "A Wake-up Call for SATCOM Security," during which we described several theoretical scenarios that could result from the disturbingly weak security posture of multiple SATCOM products. Four years later, we are back at Black Hat to prove those scenarios are real.Some of the largest airlines in the US and Europe had their entire fleets accessible from the Internet, exposing hundreds of in-flight aircraft. Sensitive NATO military bases in conflict zones were discovered through vulnerable SATCOM infrastructure. Vessels around the world are at risk as attackers can use their own SATCOM antennas to expose the crew to RF radiation.This time, in addition to describing the vulnerabilities, we will go one step further and demonstrate how to turn compromised SATCOM devices into RF weapons. This talk will cover new areas on the topic, such as reverse engineering, Radio Frequency (RF), SATCOM, embedded security, and transportation safety and security.