Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Falun Gong Hacks Chinese Satellite 584

maetenloch writes: "Last week Falun Gong hackers in China were able to briefly take over the Sinosat-1 satellite and broadcast a banner for several minutes on all channels of China Central Television. This was apparently repeated several time on different channels on Sunday but so far the Chinese government has imposed a news blackout on the incident. However thanks to the Internet and the millions of witnesses, word has leaked out. Surprisingly, security on satellites can be very weak - often transponders are left on when not active and will continue to rebroadcast whatever is beamed at them. It's believed that Falun Gong used a 3 meter dish antenna mounted on a vehicle to overpower the government's uplink signal. This is not the only time that satellite signals have been hacked - there was the famous 'Captain Midnight' incident in 1986 and it's believed that Iraq has been attacking Kurdish satellite tv channels for several years. Hackers have even (discreetly) made use of the U.S. Navy's FleetSatCom satellites."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Falun Gong Hacks Chinese Satellite

Comments Filter:
  • by ringbarer ( 545020 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:23AM (#3813688) Homepage Journal
    Whatever you think of Falun Gong vs. The Chinese Government, you've got to admit that this is a cool hack. The kind of thing you used to see in 'futuristicky' 1980's sci-fi movies.

    Moments like this, along with the Anthrax outbreak last year, are beginning to define socio-political conflict in the 21st Century.
    • beginning to define socio-political conflict in the 21st Century

      The problem is, though -- brute force is still very effective at neutralizing dissent, even if the dissenters are canny at manipulating electronic media content and delivery systems.
      But yeah, it does seem as though traditional control mechanisms are slipping a bit.

  • HBO [] could have been very creative in their marketing after that incident. Someone going to those great lengths in an attempt to watch HBO without paying for it....

  • by shr1n1 ( 263515 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:26AM (#3813705) Journal
    The government has been cracking down on this supposedly spiritual movement. This would surely stoke the fire even more.

    I don't why they would want to do this. This is hardly a good public relations move. Smells like a childish prank by some teenagers.

    No doubt the most of the Falun Gonger's are mortified by now.
    • "The government has been cracking down on this supposedly spiritual movement."

      I'm not sure why you threw in the "supposedly spiritual" comment - sounds alot like FUD. I don't agree with the Falun Gong's philosophy by any means, but theirs no room to or point in denying that they're a quasi-religious, spiritual movement.

      "I don't why they would want to do this. This is hardly a good public relations move. Smells like a childish prank by some teenagers."

      There is no such thing as bad publicity and in China, there is NO publicity. Most Chinese have no idea what the Falun Gong movement is, apart from what the government tells them, which usually are along the lines of "Falun Gong members eat their children." Seriously. Would you have been calling the civil rights activists childish when they tried to ride all white buses? Give me a break.
      • "supposedly spirtual" was added because it's not a spiritual movement. It's a political movement. (Lead by a guy hiding in NY while his followers get themselves killed either by burning themselves or by getting thrown in jail for eternity)

        They are not out to reform the Chinese government like the civil rights groups here in american have been. they are out to topple it. and if they do, millions upon millions will die -- starving to death -- because Falungong has no plan as to how to keep 1.3 billion people properly fed.

        That's why it's "childish." It is an irresponsible proposal which, today, will only lead to more death.

        Maybe it's insulting to equate "childish" with "irresponsible." But that's what the parent poster meant.
        • Lead by a guy hiding in NY while his followers get themselves killed either by burning themselves or by getting thrown in jail for eternity
          When an organisation is led by a leader that doesn't put themselves in the line of fire, they are criticised for cowardice. Why is this never applied to governments?
        • They are not out to topple the government, maybe you should read up on their movement.
      • Seriously. Would you have been calling the civil rights activists childish when they tried to ride all white buses? Give me a break.

        Except that cults (catholics/jews/falung gong) do not have the same indisputable arguments to make as Civil Rights Activists.

        Really, to suggest so is a disservice to honest public discourse.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Perhaps you've forgotten why we call the Chinese the "Chi-Coms?" The Chinese government is a Communist dictatorship, which makes it a hateful and horrific institution. Any show of rebellion against it is good. There is a reason why we in the West have such excellent living conditions while those who refuse to accept our way of life are living in squalor.

      Communism is hateful and about the worst thing on the planet. Falun Gong's actions were not "childish" or teenagerish. They were decent, moral, and an affirmation that not all of the Chinese race are blind slaves to Communism. And if a billion Chinese saw their message, then that is even better. Hopefully they will overthrow their dictatorship within the next decade and become a true democracy.
  • Department (Score:4, Funny)

    by ( 71379 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:26AM (#3813706)
    Shouldn't that be the egg-foo-yung-on-face-dept.?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:27AM (#3813708)
    ...dressed up in alien costumes and announced an invasion.
  • they'll be stealing our megahertz =P
  • "I feel kinda like god." The chinese are horrible at defacing websites. I mean come on. Can't you be a little clever and do something more exciting than "Hacked by Chinese!" or "Falun Gong is Good!"
    • by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:33AM (#3813759)
    • How about:

      "Hey you commies, Meditate This!"
      "Your mother wears Mao suits."
      "The satellite is mightier than the tank."

      (It's the best I can do until the caffeine kicks in...)
    • I'd say that very few of the hacks that say "Hacked by Chinese" are actually by mainland Chinese....

      they may be taiwanese or falungong members... but probably not mainlanders. (Why to I think this? I've been in the Chinese tech industry for almost a decade now and I don't think that many mainlanders would see a point to hacking a site and leaving that message. They just don't have the motivation. Also, as I do follow the news both here (US) and ther (China), I'd say that some falungong or taiwan crazies have more motivation (making China look like the backwards police state that everyone seems to want to believe) than the mainlanders do) .02
      • by TWR ( 16835 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:05AM (#3814369)
        The problem isn't that China is a backwards police state. The problem is that it's a rapidly modernizing police state. That's a billion times scarier.

        All the idjits who whine about "1984" in the US aren't paying attention to the country where there's a good chance of it really happening.


        • by Srin Tuar ( 147269 ) <> on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @12:07PM (#3814785)

          The chinese openly admit to censorship, restrictions on individual rights, etc.

          Here in the US, we are every bit as much a police state as china is, however we claim to be the freest place on earth. (richest sure, but the freedom is an illusion)

          Here we curtail civil liberties in "defense of freedom". Here we have a working massive fingerprint database, and a credit database that says if you are a good person or not, which furthermore you cannot argue against.

          Our government has huge monitoring systems which silently listen to communications all over the world combing for information.

          We have a War department that is called "The Dept. of Defense" which has been waging nearly perpetual war for 50 years across the globe.

          We have huge witchhunts for the enemy of the day "communists" "child molesters" "terrorists".

          The scariest thing is that it all arises without rigid central control: we censor ourselves to further our careers.

          The doublethink in the USA is getting pretty scary.

          • I like you. You seem like my type of person. Keep it up.
          • The chinese openly admit to censorship, restrictions on individual rights, etc.

            So do we--you've heard of the Constitution and the bill of rights, no? In the interest of protecting individual rights and freedoms, we repress other individual rights. Freedom is no illusion, it is a careful, careful balance. The difference is that I can go to court and challenge _any_ law that I perceive to be too restrictive, and I can win! It happens every day. Some might argue that the system's out of whack right now, but...

            scariest thing is that it all arises without rigid central control
            Exactly! It's brilliant! We control the extent to which our freedoms are suppressed, sometimes in the interest of safety, sometimes because of FUD, but always because we have chosen. And no doubt, the pendulum swings a little extreme one way, we see the error of our ways, and it swings back too far the other way. It's just human nature.

            waging nearly perpetual war for 50 years
            Rome went to war much longer--was it a police state? So did Britain--police state? You digress here, methinks.

            BTW, I've been to some peaceful demonstrations, in our nation's capital and other places, and no tanks and soldiers have ever shown up, shot large numbers of peaceful demonstrators, and covered the numbers up. That kind of thing just can't happen here; part of the beauty of our system is that horrible things like Kent State can happen and be displayed by the media, to become a forum for the public to discuss for the next hundred years. How did the public discussion go in the People's Republic after that little incident in the Square? There are some bad trends in the US right now, but I do NOT think you can draw similarities between the States and China.

  • by tcm614ce ( 570300 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:30AM (#3813732)
    With the internet now readily available in Beijing, it's very difficult for the ChiComs to keep news like this from the general public. I seems to me at first glance that tricks like this could be a good way to undermine a particular government's confidence in it's "right" to rule. Similar stunts all put together over many years time (e.g. Boston Tea Party) have worked in the past...
    • Sigh. Why's it so difficult to keep news like this from the public? Did you read the article and here how the Chinese news was reporting that the picture was "fuzzy" and "only displayed for about 20 seconds"? This happened in one province of China, so that leaves about a billion people left who didn't see it for themselves. Here's a quote from a previous post of mine about China and the internet:

      "Also, why can't they control the internet? They own all the infrastructure, the ISPs, the cable, everything. You're not very informed to think they just can't turn off whatever they want. They block all of geocities and angelfire, and often block cnn and other news sites when some issue that is sensitive to the government is happening. Don't underestimate what a determined dictatorship can accomplish, especially when they hold all of the cards."

      Another point - why does it matter if the people aren't convinced that the CCP has the right to rule? The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) has all the guns, military, etc. and revolt is downright impossible.
  • by ronfar ( 52216 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:32AM (#3813748) Journal
    The main Friends of Falun Gong Website is here:

    Friends of Falun Gong []

    The Falun Gong take on the story is here:

    Revealing Broadcasts Are Truly Serving the People-- From the Editors of Falun Gong Practitioners Risk their Lives to Tell the Truth []

    If you would like to help out the cause, there is a page about it here:

    Become a Friend- Alleviate the Suffering, End the Injustice []

  • This sounds to me like satellites are the ultimate open proxy. (Are any transponders given the number 8080?)

    [hint for those who don't know what I mean: on a computer with a misconfig'd open proxy, this usually can be found by scanning for an open port 8080]

  • by Mr Guy ( 547690 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:35AM (#3813772) Journal
    Are we very sure they weren't trying to signal AMSAT-OSCAR 7 [] and just missed?
  • Doubtful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zaren ( 204877 ) <> on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:36AM (#3813774) Homepage Journal
    From what (little) I know about Falun Gong, hacking a satellite doesn't sound like something they'd do, since it's much more likely to be illegal than a sit-down type protest, and MUCH more likely to bring the jackboots down on them.

    I'm inclined to think it was some other band of kiddiez that just wanted a good cover for their actions, like the "Hacked By Chinese" incidents from last year.

    Darwin is an evolutionary OS []...
    Apple hardware still too expensive for you? How about a raffle ticket? []
  • How could it be that wireless telephones using AM modulation were converted to SSB signals?

    An AM signal is composed of two ssb signals (lower and upper sideband) and a carrier wave:

    LSB | CW | USB

    It is trivial that using an SSB receiver you will be able to hear an AM signal. The only difference is that you may only listen to one sideband at a time.

    • FM signals can be received by SSB receivers (And even AM detectors possibly, I cannot remember), it's a phenomenon known as "slope detection" - It's horrendously inefficient and a waste of 90% of the transmitted signal, but it'll work.
  • Could someone give us a brief overview of what exactly Falun Gong is? Besides a group that is persecuted in China. (I see groups of Falun Gong supporters out downtown here every weekend, but I never bothered to ask what it was.)
    • by ronfar ( 52216 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:53AM (#3813860) Journal
      Here you go:

      What is Falun Gong []

      Falun Gong is basically similar to traditional Chinese religions such as Buddhism and Taoism, and centers on meditation as a means of physical and spiritual self-improvement.

      It began as an exercise society, which tried to get official status with the government. When the government refused the group staged a mass, peaceful demonstration, hoping to change the minds of the government.

      This was a failure, and the government decided to eradicate the group by any means necessary. The techniques include murder, torture and heavy propaganda on the state run TV. The main fear of the government is that before the government decided it was a threat the group had gained a lot of members, including some people who were also communist party members.

  • Not Suprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dunall ( 470871 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:45AM (#3813816)
    As an ex-satellite controller for the U.S Government, I'm not suprised this has happened. The typical TV satellites aren't encrypted and all it really takes is a very strong signal on the right frequency in the right part of the sky (easy to find with a rf power meter).. I don't think military or most communications/data satellites are capabale of the same type of hacks.. Military satellites all use strong encryption on both the uplink and downlink and have the ability to null particular receive areas, via the honeycomb array'd antenna. A couple times every day the transmit from the satellite is optimized to keep us from placing beams in countries that don't need to see our comms... I've personally done that countless times.

    The only way you could possibly hurt a military satellite is to blast it with power... However once that's done, controlers in the NOC see it.. Null rx, and send the lat and long if the source of the spike on to whoever needs to be notified (Falcon AFB for Air Force and Army). Spikes are the only cheap and effective way of hacking, however our SSMA communications defeats that easily.. Not that much of SATCOM is SSMA, but the really important shit is.

    For a truly effective hack, you'd have to jam 2 different UHF rxers (backup and primary command rxers) as well as the regular comms channels.. but with someone putting out that much power, it'd be pretty easy to find without the use of the satty anyway.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • by Cutriss ( 262920 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:47AM (#3813824) Homepage
    The only thing pointing to the idea that the Falun Gong conducted this stunt is the fact that the Chinese government tried to hide it.

    Otherwise, it seems totally out of character for what is largely a peaceful group, and also one that doesn't have much in the way of financial resources. In a country where several years' worth of paychecks *may* be enough to buy you a car, it's not something you'd easily risk by pulling a stunt like this.

    I'm sorry, but my BS-o-meter is registering pretty high on this one. It sounds suspiciously to me like a way for the Chinese government to legitimize their qualms with the group.
    • Apparently your BS-o-meter forgot the minor detail of the Falun Gong hacking a TV station [] for a short period of time for a broadcast. As far as revolutions go, you may not consider the method peaceful, but it's a damn sight better than screaming "Falun Gong! Falun Gong!" in a marketplace befor blowing innocents up. Trying to win the hearts and minds of the populace without explosives... What a novel concept.
      • I didn't know about that. Thanks.

        And I wasn't trying to imply that this thing wasn't peaceful, so much as I've just never read any news about Falun Gong that didn't have to do with some new incident of persecution by the Chinese government.
  • Bah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Aaron_Pike ( 528044 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:48AM (#3813830) Homepage


    I saw that broadcast. All it was was a couple of gay asian guys wearing way too much make up shouting "Hack the Planet!".

  • by patiwat ( 126496 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @09:52AM (#3813857)
    I fear that this incident will prove highly counter-productive to Fa Lun Gong.

    For the Chinese man on the street, who might not sympathize with Fa Lun Gong (many that I know don't), an act like this marks them as trouble-makers who have clearly gone beyond passive resistance.

    For the Chinese government, this incident allows them to go to the American government and claim that Fa Lun Gong is a bunch of religious cyber-terrorists. An excuse to crack down on illicit internet-cafes, rights of religious freedoms (they can claim that religion preaches terrorism), and hackers in general (ala US-styled counter-cyber-terrorism proposals).

    For American policy makers, this seems similar to Al-Qaeda cyber-terrorism scenarios, where a telecom disruption might occur concurrently with a physical attack, thus disrupting the C4 capabilities of the emergency support teams.

    Get real. This isn't like in "Hackers" or "Johny Mnemonic" where the good guy hackers hack TV to expose The Man.

    Patiwat Panurach
    • Old hat (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 )
      Gee, what are they going to do? Ban them and then torture them in jail?

      Comparing them to Al-Qaeda is ridiculous.
  • They could have hacked the satellite and broadcast some decent programs.

    Anybody fancy making a similar effort as regards ITV? (preferably Saturday evening about 7 o'clock)
  • Watch the news [] lately?
  • All things aside, in the US at least, what is the punishment for a private individual or a company hijacking a satellite signal? With this in mind, is it more cost effective for a company to do it themselves or pay a fall guy an inordinate sum to hijack a satellite and enter a plea of guilty, or to legitimately buy superbowl commercial time :)

    I know, it wouldn't work, the bad press that followed would be bad for most companies, (then again it might work for a beer company, or maybe apple computers...) but it is a fun thought.
  • They have (Score:2, Funny)

    by gelfling ( 6534 )
    The greatest Kung Fu. They are unbeatable.
  • "The human rights and democracy centre said an antenna with a diameter of 3m could disrupt reception for hundreds of kilometres." "

    That's ok, a Pringles can is all I need.. to take over the world!
  • China? What?
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:54AM (#3814710) Homepage Journal
    Well, you have to admit this does have other possibilities. Perhaps Chuck Barris should be contacted to see if he'd like to host the Falun Gong Show...

    (I wonder if I'm going to lose karma points for that one...)
  • by ehintz ( 10572 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @12:25PM (#3814964) Homepage
    Since we seem to have a flurry of conflicting opinions regarding whether Falun Gong's activities are terrorism...

    USA PATRIOT defines domestic terrorism as activities that attempt "to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion". defines "coerce" thus:
    coerce (k-ûrs)

    tr.v. coerced, coercing, coerces
    1. To force to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure,
    threats, or intimidation; compel.
    By that definition, Falun Gong are terrorists. So are all of us that marched on federal buildings attempting to use "pressure" to "compel" the DOJ to free Dmitry. Which serves as a good example of one of the many things that are wrong with USA PATRIOT.

    Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the terrorist party?
  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @01:18PM (#3815456) Homepage
    Banner advertising is _SO_ 2000.



I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.