Feeds

US military satellite to get attack-warning equipment

Guarding against mysterious inopportune accidents

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A US military satellite is to be fitted with equipment which will enable it to detect hostile action and inform ground controllers what's going on, according to reports.

US military graphic showing catalogued objects in Earth orbit

In space, nobody can hear your victim scream ... yet

Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski of the US Air Force told reporters including those of Aviation Week on Wednesday that a classified satellite is now planned to go into space equipped with a Self-Awareness Space Situational Awareness (SASSA) package, kit which the Pentagon has been working on for some time.

The US military and intelligence agencies operate a mighty fleet of spacecraft, with missions ranging from navigation and timing like the well-known GPS constellation – which makes almost all satnavs and a surprising amount of other Earthbound civilian electronics work, as well as guiding missiles etc – to blacker-than-black top secret spying and surveillance.

Most of these satellites, while in touch with ground control stations some or all of the time, have no sensors which would let them know if they were being meddled with or attacked – and this is a real possibility as more nations acquire space capabilities or groundbased gear such as jammers or lasers which can reach into space. As things stand, a satellite could simply go offline for a while or permanently, and its controllers would never know what happened to it.

That's where SASSA and various other US military space hardware comes in. SASSA itself would let a satellite know if it was being jammed, blinded or scrambled: other, dedicated spacecraft would be able to watch events in Earth orbit and perhaps detect or monitor sneaky anti-satellite operations involving actual intercepts and collisions.

It would seem the idea is not so much to mount any particular defence or retaliation against hostile anti-satellite efforts, but rather to establish clearly who is behind them. As action against another nation's spacecraft is a massive no-no under international convention, it is usually only worth doing if one can be sure that nobody will be sure who did it (or even sure that any action took place, perhaps).

SASSA and such efforts would seem to mean that attacks on US satellites will soon be much less deniable: which is, perhaps, why we are being told about them in advance. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.