teridon asks: "I work in the satellite control industry, and I've been asked to present mission safety with regards to command security. In other words, how do we ensure that 'unknowns' don't command the satellite. Military and commerical birds often employ encryption on both the uplink and the downlink. However, it seems that none of the science-oriented satellites my company operates do this. We rely on physical security (access to the control center), network security (we use closed networks), technology (most crackers don't have access to a huge radio antenna with which to transmit), and obscurity (each satellite has its own command structure, not publicly documented). Many satellites use CCSDS frames to uplink commands; only the command data is obscured by lack of public info." A common mantra heard from Slashdot is "obscurity is not security", and this is a lesson that teridon wants his company to learn, in addition to other steps they can take to improve the security of their system. What suggestions might you have when it comes to improving security on satellite systems, especially if you have experience from some of the mistakes that you may have seen in production?
"Three major issues concern me (I'm going to assume that our network security works (grin!):
- Can someone effectively execute a DOS attack by uplinking to the satellite with a powerful signal (the frequency would be easy to 'snoop' from our transmitting antenna), thus preventing us from commanding it? In general, how do receivers handle multiple command carriers (would there be too much noise to command)?
- How many of you think that you could decipher the structure of the command (given the motivation)?
- Standards being developed (like SCPS) intend to make satellites 'just another node on the Internet.' Take a look at the security protocol (which is based on IPSEC, et. al) and tell me if you think it is secure, or whether you'd want to crack it.