Topics

ISS SSTV Project - Computer Breach

Clint Bradford
 

During the current ISS SSTV project, a Nova Scotia ham intentionally hacked* 
into the ISS' computer that was handling sending the images.

That is correct. He accessed a foreign government’s computer 
system - with
the intent to disrupt an official ISS project by sending out his own image(s).

Several other amateur 
radio operators have written that their reception of
“legitimate” images from the 
ISS project were interrupted by this unauthorized
activity.


The offending ham has publicly pronounced himself a hero and that his actions 
are an “experiment” worthy of merit and accolades from the amateur radio community. 
He says he is well-within his rights to access the ISS' computer without obtaining 
permission. Heck, a couple AMSAT-NA board candidates have applauded and
endorsed his activity.


Again - someone accessed another's computer without permission, interrupting 
an ongoing project.

SO - What is next, if there are no repercussions to the offender? 

How about keying up on ARISS project frequencies and interrupting an ARISS 
project-in-progress? NASA and the other space agencies involved would shut 
down the ARISS schedule until they are assured that a “cure” to that malicious 
and intentional is “cured” to their satisfaction.

This offending ham’s hacking/breach should be universally condemned.

Clint Bradford K6LCS

* - Some have been irritated that I use the term "hacking," to describe this 
illegal activity. According to California law, U.S. statutes, Canadian cybercrime
statutes, and international treaties, "hacking" is defined as "access to another's
computer without obtaining permission."

Floyd Bixler
 

Clint,  being a retired IT systems Engineer and Developer I’m wondering if he really hacked himself into the ISS system (a dangerous move if he could also hack other ISS systems), or he used some other technique to disrupt the project.  One idea falls to mind with a satellite project I worked on for sending digital data streams to the war fighters in Bosnia.  We actually used a normal satellite (as a test, mind you) that just happened to be in the right place and “bounced” our signal off the satellite without actually using the satellite systems.  We actually hear this a lot when looking for Meteor bounce when, sometimes, we can hear signals bouncing off satellites and not meteors.

 

It would seem to me that if this guy had the right power/antenna system, he could do the same.  It would disrupt the real transmissions with his own and prevent other hams from receiving anything at all or very little.

 

Just a thought, but you probably have a lot more info than I do.  I hope we can figure this out.

 

Floyd Bixler, DA1VF/WD8DUP

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 

From: Clint Bradford via Groups.Io
Sent: Saturday, August 3, 2019 19:37
To: Work-Sat@groups.io
Subject: [Work-Sat] ISS SSTV Project - Computer Breach

 

During the current ISS SSTV project, a Nova Scotia ham intentionally hacked* 
into the ISS' computer that was handling sending the images.

That is correct. He accessed a foreign government’s computer system - with
the intent to disrupt an official ISS project by sending out his own image(s).

Several other amateur radio operators have written that their reception of
“legitimate” images from the ISS project were interrupted by this unauthorized
activity.

The offending ham has publicly pronounced himself a hero and that his actions 
are an “experiment” worthy of merit and accolades from the amateur radio community. 
He says he is well-within his rights to access the ISS' computer without obtaining 
permission. Heck, a couple AMSAT-NA board candidates have applauded and
endorsed his activity.

Again - someone accessed another's computer without permission, interrupting 
an ongoing project.

SO - What is next, if there are no repercussions to the offender? 

How about keying up on ARISS project frequencies and interrupting an ARISS 
project-in-progress? NASA and the other space agencies involved would shut 
down the ARISS schedule until they are assured that a “cure” to that malicious 
and intentional is “cured” to their satisfaction.

This offending ham’s hacking/breach should be universally condemned.

Clint Bradford K6LCS

* - Some have been irritated that I use the term "hacking," to describe this 
illegal activity. According to California law, U.S. statutes, Canadian cybercrime
statutes, and international treaties, "hacking" is defined as "access to another's
computer without obtaining permission." 

 

Bruce Perens K6BP
 

There is a place for security research. However, messing with a computer that is one of the most inaccessible devices ever made! In space! That fixing it might be impossible - that is irresponsible and sure it's a criminal act. 

In AMSATs position, I might have put a unit on the ground and asked for people to penetrate it and tell me how.

I own the domain wewanthackers.com and have used it to host job applications. I am not out to hire computer criminals, just unconventional and especially expert programmers, and I don't have room for mundanes in my company.

As one of the original hackers, an alumnus of the hackers conference, and hackaday's conference, yes I do think the word hacker is pejorative used in the context you used, it means someone who is an unconventional programmer and nothing else. What you meant to say is computer criminal, and that's what the law says as well. So please mind your language

Thanks

Bruce

On Sat, Aug 3, 2019, 10:37 Clint Bradford via Groups.Io <clintbradford=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:
During the current ISS SSTV project, a Nova Scotia ham intentionally hacked* 
into the ISS' computer that was handling sending the images.

That is correct. He accessed a foreign government’s computer 
system - with
the intent to disrupt an official ISS project by sending out his own image(s).

Several other amateur 
radio operators have written that their reception of
“legitimate” images from the 
ISS project were interrupted by this unauthorized
activity.


The offending ham has publicly pronounced himself a hero and that his actions 
are an “experiment” worthy of merit and accolades from the amateur radio community. 
He says he is well-within his rights to access the ISS' computer without obtaining 
permission. Heck, a couple AMSAT-NA board candidates have applauded and
endorsed his activity.


Again - someone accessed another's computer without permission, interrupting 
an ongoing project.

SO - What is next, if there are no repercussions to the offender? 

How about keying up on ARISS project frequencies and interrupting an ARISS 
project-in-progress? NASA and the other space agencies involved would shut 
down the ARISS schedule until they are assured that a “cure” to that malicious 
and intentional is “cured” to their satisfaction.

This offending ham’s hacking/breach should be universally condemned.

Clint Bradford K6LCS

* - Some have been irritated that I use the term "hacking," to describe this 
illegal activity. According to California law, U.S. statutes, Canadian cybercrime
statutes, and international treaties, "hacking" is defined as "access to another's
computer without obtaining permission." 

Clint Bradford
 

He used a known "access" to the program that the ISS uses ...

Clint

Clint Bradford
 

On Sat, Aug 3, 2019 at 03:53 PM, Bruce Perens K6BP wrote:
What you meant to say is computer criminal ...


No - accessing another's computer without first obtaining permission is a very common definition of "hacker."

Clint Bradford
 

The Nova Scotia amateur radio operator just wrote to me ... 

>> ... I did not access the computer system. I triggered the repeat function that has always been enabled on the system ...

No - He exploited an opening in the software program MMSSTV. That program runs on a computer. Without obtaining permission from the computer owner, he sent commands to transmit his own Morse Code and image file using someone else's computer.

>> ... Definition of Hacking: Hacking generally refers to unauthorized intrusion into a computer or a network. The person engaged in hacking activities is known as a hacker. This hacker may alter system or security features to accomplish a goal that differs from the original purpose of the system.

That is precisely what he did: entered another's system, and altered that system to broadcast his images.

Clint

Clint Bradford
 

We have this wonderful tribute to an astronaut occurring world-wide, and one 
person has found his way to mess it up ...

daron wilson
 

Respectfully, I disagree a bit on your analysis.

 

I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on television and I agree it is an unfortunate event.  However, I do not believe this meets the definition of hacking.

 

Assuming the reports are accurate, and there is a predefined method to trigger commercially available software in use on the ISS to repeat your signal, AND there is no standing order from control station (AMSAT or NASA) that specifically prohibits it…it’s just one feature that they should have disabled and didn’t get disabled ( I suspect he ruined it and it will be disabled now!).  I certainly would not give him credit as a hacker, he didn’t hack anything, he used a feature as intended.

 

I run MMSSTV as well as packet stuff at home.  I wasn’t aware of a remote control like that in MMSSTV, however, I am the one responsible for my station.  If I fire up the software and head to work, I can’t really blame someone who chooses to connect to me and use features I have available.  If someone connects to me via packet, I don’t require ‘my permission’ to connect and use the software I’m running, that would be foolish.  I’ve chosen to put my computer on that network with software that allows others to access my computer.  Me, I did that.  If others connect to me and use the features of the software I’m running, they aren’t hacking.

 

This guy had a callsign, and I’m assuming was transmitting on a frequency authorized in his country, so no ‘unauthorized’ intrusion took place.  He didn’t use the software to access anything that he wasn’t allowed to ( as far as we know, he didn’t hack into the OS and enable things, etc.).

 

The fact that  you are pissed off because you couldn’t receive some static images frustrates me.  I’ve had this discussion with you before, we are communicators, and communicating involves transmit and receive.  We aren’t SWL folks, logging everything we ‘hear’ and counting it as a contact.  We’re communicators.  While it is amazing to log static photos sent from the ISS, that is just SWL type receiving, anyone (license or not) can do it.  We should be much more focused on communicating not just logging.

 

FYI I remember Owen Garriot very well, I was much younger and had one VHF radio that was all I could afford, and recorded him calling on the passes from Columbia.  I was never able to reach him, but certainly enjoyed the excitement of listening to his voice from space.

 

73

 

Daron N7HQR

 

From: Work-Sat@groups.io [mailto:Work-Sat@groups.io] On Behalf Of Clint Bradford via Groups.Io
Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2019 5:27 PM
To: Work-Sat@groups.io
Subject: Re: [Work-Sat] ISS SSTV Project - Computer Breach

 

The Nova Scotia amateur radio operator just wrote to me ... 

>> ... I did not access the computer system. I triggered the repeat function that has always been enabled on the system ...

No - He exploited an opening in the software program MMSSTV. That program runs on a computer. Without obtaining permission from the computer owner, he sent commands to transmit his own Morse Code and image file using someone else's computer.

>> ... Definition of Hacking: Hacking generally refers to unauthorized intrusion into a computer or a network. The person engaged in hacking activities is known as a hacker. This hacker may alter system or security features to accomplish a goal that differs from the original purpose of the system.

That is precisely what he did: entered another's system, and altered that system to broadcast his images.

Clint

_._,_._,_

 

Clint Bradford
 

Daron - Tell me where my logic and thinking are flawed -

1. MMSSTV is a computer program.
2. It is running on the ISS on one of their computers.
3. Someone who is not authorized to access that computer accesses it.

THAT is the classic definition of "hacking." Doesn't need to be destructive. The mere 
intrusion into a computer owned by someone else is a crime - in many jurisdictions 
(including Canadian law).

4. That person interferes with the public SSTV session. And broadcasts his own images.

THAT is where - in many jurisdictions - the crime is treated more severely than mere access. In many 
states in the U.S., for example, that's is the difference between prosecuting for a misdemeanor 
versus a felony.

The ISS' SSTV program has been interrupted due to this breach. There is no defense. Makes no 
difference if he has a callsign and is operating on legal frequencies. This is not a "ham experiment." 
This is an intentional, criminal breach by a hacker.

Clint



 

daron wilson
 

Gladly.

 

1.       Yes, MMSSTV is a computer program with remote access ( I didn’t realize that, but clearly others did).  The program, as operated by the control operator, ALLOWS for remote control and reception of an image and apparently retransmission.

2.       Yes, it is running on the ISS under a control operator’s callsign, the control operator is responsible for every transmission from the station.  Should the control operator NOT want to have others control his station, he is completely responsible for the configuration of the station.  I operate numerous repeaters and digital stations, and I am specifically responsible for every transmission that I allow to be repeated.  If something shows up and is inappropriate, I shut down the repeater and don’t repeat it.  However, if I open the repeater to general amateur use, and someone transmits a message, it isn’t hacking, it is use of the system as designed.

3.       No, there are no published instruction saying that one cannot transmit on 145.800 to the program ( that I am aware of, if you have such a publication from the control operator, please share it).  The amateur radio operator used the software as provided, he didn’t access anything that was not made accessible by the control operator, modify any parameters to gain control, or ‘hack’ anything.  He simply used a feature of the software running  on the ISS to retransmit his signal.  By your definition, anyone using a repeater, packet node, Winlink node, etc. is ‘hacking’ because he accesses a remote computer and uses the software running on that computer to cause a transmission to occur.  That…is not hacking.

4.       Interference is tricky.  The user did cause his transmission to occur instead of a preprogrammed static image, but it appears that is an enabled feature of the software.  If I run 200 watts into the local repeater and you run 2 watts, and my signal captures the receiver while yours does not, am I actually ‘interfering’ with your transmission?  No,  it isn’t an offense if I happen to capture the receiver instead of you, it just means that my signal captured the receiver.

 

At the end of the day, the user pointed out an error in the setup on the ISS, if the ISS actually does NOT approve of the SSTV repeat function.  If, as the control operator, they choose to not allow that function, they simply need to disable it and move on.

 

You are way over the top on this ‘hacking’ thing.  They guy simply knew more about the software than the rest of us, and used a function that was enabled by the control operator to get his signal repeated.  No malicious intent, no crime, no ‘breach’,  he used the software as intended.  Unfortunately, the control op should have disabled this function if he didn’t want it used.

 

Have a pina colada, relax, and wait for the next pass.

 

73


Daron

 

From: Work-Sat@groups.io [mailto:Work-Sat@groups.io] On Behalf Of Clint Bradford via Groups.Io
Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2019 8:43 PM
To: Work-Sat@groups.io
Subject: Re: [Work-Sat] ISS SSTV Project - Computer Breach

 

Daron - Tell me where my logic and thinking are flawed -

1. MMSSTV is a computer program.
2. It is running on the ISS on one of their computers.
3. Someone who is not authorized to access that computer accesses it.

THAT is the classic definition of "hacking." Doesn't need to be destructive. The mere 
intrusion into a computer owned by someone else is a crime - in many jurisdictions 
(including Canadian law).

4. That person interferes with the public SSTV session. And broadcasts his own images.

THAT is where - in many jurisdictions - the crime is treated more severely than mere access. In many 
states in the U.S., for example, that's is the difference between prosecuting for a misdemeanor 
versus a felony.

The ISS' SSTV program has been interrupted due to this breach. There is no defense. Makes no 
difference if he has a callsign and is operating on legal frequencies. This is not a "ham experiment." 
This is an intentional, criminal breach by a hacker.

Clint



 

Bob Rozhon
 

I'm not arguing hacking or not on 145.800. As a new ham I really anticipate SSTV from the ISS. When someone screws up that opportunity for many other Hams so he or she can say "look what I did" will never be ok with me. Hacking or not, this action is irresponsible.

                                Robert R


On Saturday, August 3, 2019, 11:38:16 PM CDT, daron wilson <daron@...> wrote:


Gladly.

 

1.       Yes, MMSSTV is a computer program with remote access ( I didn’t realize that, but clearly others did).  The program, as operated by the control operator, ALLOWS for remote control and reception of an image and apparently retransmission.

2.       Yes, it is running on the ISS under a control operator’s callsign, the control operator is responsible for every transmission from the station.  Should the control operator NOT want to have others control his station, he is completely responsible for the configuration of the station.  I operate numerous repeaters and digital stations, and I am specifically responsible for every transmission that I allow to be repeated.  If something shows up and is inappropriate, I shut down the repeater and don’t repeat it.  However, if I open the repeater to general amateur use, and someone transmits a message, it isn’t hacking, it is use of the system as designed.

3.       No, there are no published instruction saying that one cannot transmit on 145.800 to the program ( that I am aware of, if you have such a publication from the control operator, please share it).  The amateur radio operator used the software as provided, he didn’t access anything that was not made accessible by the control operator, modify any parameters to gain control, or ‘hack’ anything.  He simply used a feature of the software running  on the ISS to retransmit his signal.  By your definition, anyone using a repeater, packet node, Winlink node, etc. is ‘hacking’ because he accesses a remote computer and uses the software running on that computer to cause a transmission to occur.  That…is not hacking.

4.       Interference is tricky.  The user did cause his transmission to occur instead of a preprogrammed static image, but it appears that is an enabled feature of the software.  If I run 200 watts into the local repeater and you run 2 watts, and my signal captures the receiver while yours does not, am I actually ‘interfering’ with your transmission?  No,  it isn’t an offense if I happen to capture the receiver instead of you, it just means that my signal captured the receiver.

 

At the end of the day, the user pointed out an error in the setup on the ISS, if the ISS actually does NOT approve of the SSTV repeat function.  If, as the control operator, they choose to not allow that function, they simply need to disable it and move on.

 

You are way over the top on this ‘hacking’ thing.  They guy simply knew more about the software than the rest of us, and used a function that was enabled by the control operator to get his signal repeated.  No malicious intent, no crime, no ‘breach’,  he used the software as intended.  Unfortunately, the control op should have disabled this function if he didn’t want it used.

 

Have a pina colada, relax, and wait for the next pass.

 

73


Daron

 

From: Work-Sat@groups.io [mailto:Work-Sat@groups.io] On Behalf Of Clint Bradford via Groups.Io
Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2019 8:43 PM
To: Work-Sat@groups.io
Subject: Re: [Work-Sat] ISS SSTV Project - Computer Breach

 

Daron - Tell me where my logic and thinking are flawed -

1. MMSSTV is a computer program.
2. It is running on the ISS on one of their computers.
3. Someone who is not authorized to access that computer accesses it.

THAT is the classic definition of "hacking." Doesn't need to be destructive. The mere 
intrusion into a computer owned by someone else is a crime - in many jurisdictions 
(including Canadian law).

4. That person interferes with the public SSTV session. And broadcasts his own images.

THAT is where - in many jurisdictions - the crime is treated more severely than mere access. In many 
states in the U.S., for example, that's is the difference between prosecuting for a misdemeanor 
versus a felony.

The ISS' SSTV program has been interrupted due to this breach. There is no defense. Makes no 
difference if he has a callsign and is operating on legal frequencies. This is not a "ham experiment." 
This is an intentional, criminal breach by a hacker.

Clint