Have there ever been any Satellites that were hacked by a rogue nation or hacker groups, if not is it possible to accomplish such a task?

Hack a satellite and take control of it.

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    $\begingroup$ See What would one need to do in order to hijack a satellite? Depending on what qualifies as "hacking", the ISEE-3 Reboot Project might also qualify (not an illegal hack since it received a blessing from NASA, but a hack nonetheless since NASA "lost" original equipment used to communicate with it and the reboot team built a custom SDR-based transceiver and software for it). $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ This was cross-posted on Amateur Radio: ham.stackexchange.com/q/3781/29 $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @TildalWave that infosec post was an Interesting read, I was wondering about the protocols and kind of equipment that was required to accomplish some thing like this. $\endgroup$
    – Ashwin
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ Not just possible, but surprisingly easy, apparently: theregister.com/2023/08/11/satellite_hacking_black_hat $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 23:41

2 Answers 2


Yes, it has been done before. Check it out on geek.com where you can read some details.

The article is titled Chinese Hackers Took Control Of NASA Satellites for 11 Minutes

Although in this case we aren't sure what they did with it. Nothing malicious seemed to come from it.

IT World talks about it here but the report seems to have been removed.

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    $\begingroup$ Please include more information from the original report. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ web.archive.org/web/20120302073713/http://www.uscc.gov/… $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks deer hunter, i had just found it and was about to post the link to. I'm posting from mobile. Appreciate it. :) $\endgroup$
    – Kleigh
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ Also see the case of Victor Faur who breached NASA command and control systems in 2005-2006. And Falungong jamming (denial of service attack, or DoS for short, in infosec parlance) in 2005. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 18:40

To add some 2023 updates to the existing 2015 answer, see Politico's August 12, 2023 For the first time, U.S. government lets hackers break into satellite in space

LAS VEGAS — Hackers in a desert in the Southwest are lobbing a barrage of cyberattacks at a U.S. government satellite on Friday — and it’s exactly what the Pentagon wanted to happen.

The U.S. Air Force and Space Force are hoping the effort, the first-ever attempt to use hackers to break into a live, orbiting satellite, will help them build more secure space systems and identify security gaps that could be exploited by China or other adversaries.

Five teams of hackers are competing at the DEF CON cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas to remotely seize control of Space Force satellite Moonlighter, currently spinning in Earth’s low orbit. Along with trying to break in and build a data link to the satellite, hackers are also trying to keep enemy teams out of their own vulnerable system by using encryption and firewall protections. The satellite is zooming around the earth at about five miles per second, Air Force and Space Force staffers told reporters Friday.

It's not over yet but there have already been some successful events so far.

Also, but unverified, this answer to How can just making the ground broadcast stronger neutralize a zombie(sat)? includes:

One other interesting (and highly unlikely) reason for their urgency might have been the presences of two L band Geostationary Communications and Control Segment transponders on Galaxy-15. Officially the GCCS is managed by the FAA to improve the accuracy of GPS navigation, but it wouldn't be very surprising if other, classified, payloads where included alongside the primary. The cause of the loss of control hasn't officially been established, and the possibility of a foreign goverment ~cough~ China ~cough~ taking control couldn't immediately be ruled out.

See also some related questions


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