ICARUS: Attacking low Earth orbit satellite networks


Giacomo Giuliari, Tommaso Ciussani, Adrian Perrig, and Ankit Singla, ETH Zurich


Internet service based on low Earth orbit satellites is generating immense excitement in the networking community due to its potential for global low-latency connectivity. Despite the promise of LEO satellite networks, the security of their operation has so far been largely neglected. In this context, we present ICARUS, a new class of denial of service attacks on LEO networks.

ICARUS turns these networks' key benefits into vulnerabilities: an adversary can leverage the direct global accessibility to launch an attack from numerous locations, while the quest for low latency constrains routing, and provides predictability to the adversary. We explore how the adversary can exploit other unique features, including the path structure of such networks, and the public knowledge of the locations and connectivity of the satellite-routers. We find that a small amount of attack bandwidth can hamper communications between large terrestrial areas. Finally, we lay out open problems in this direction, and provide a framework to enable further research on attacks and defenses in this context.

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