Hackers interfered with two U.S. satellites on four separate occasions in the last few years, according to a draft of a report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission obtained by Bloomberg BusinessWeek on Thursday. The attacks are believed to have been orchestrated from China.
The annual report, scheduled to be released next month, claims the Landsat-7 satellite encountered 12 or more minutes of interference in October 2007 and July 2008. Meanwhile, the Terra AM-1 satellite reportedly received interference for two minutes in June 2008 and then again for nine minutes in October 2008. Both satellites are used to track the earth’s climate and terrain and were launched in 1999 by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA, respectively.
According to NASA, both satellites are also monitored by the Svalbard Satellite Station in Spitsbergen, Norway and hackers could’ve used that outpost to temporarily wrest away control from the satellites’ operators.
The report doesn’t go into depth discussing who may be behind the attacks, but it does describe the breaches as being in line with those by the Chinese military, specifically when it comes to disabling “ground-based infrastructure, such as satellite control facilities.”
China’s no stranger to accusations from the West that it is responsible for cyber attacks on government agencies, contractors and private sector firms. The nation has a long history of spying on U.S. State Department cables, targeting Gmail accounts of U.S. officials and hacking other various political targets.
For the full report, head over to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.