AOH :: IS1730.HTM

Satellite-hacking boffin sees the unseeable

Satellite-hacking boffin sees the unseeable
Satellite-hacking boffin sees the unseeable 

By Dan Goodin
The Register
17th February 2009

White-hat hacker Adam Laurie knows better than to think email, 
video-on-demand, and other content from Sky Broadcasting and other 
satellite TV providers is a private matter between him and the company. 
That's because he's spent the past decade monitoring satellite feeds and 
the vast amount of private information they leak to anyone with a dish.

"Looking at what kind of data you can see being broadcast, some of that 
is quite surprising," he says. "Things you would expect to be secure 
turn out not to be secure. The most worrying thing is you can just see 
all this data going by."

Using off-the-shelf components Laurie assembled himself, it's not hard 
for him to spot private emails in transit, web browsing sessions, and 
live stock market data that's not supposed to be available for free. The 
most unforgettable thing he's seen came in 1997, when television 
reporters in Paris used unsecured feeds to beam back what was supposed 
to be closed-circuit coverage of Princess Diana's death to a UK 
television network.

"The journalists were smoking cigarettes and gossiping," Laurie says. 
"We were witnessing these journalists and the events unfolding in the 
raw, before they were edited. That's not something you normally get 
access to."

Laurie plans to share the findings of his research on Wednesday at the 
Black Hat security conference in Washington, D.C. He's not the only 
hacker to research satellite feeds. Researchers Jim Geovedi, Raditya 
Iryandi, and Anthony Zboralski have exposed similar weaknesses here 


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