Wireless Signal Injection Attacks on VSAT Satellite Modems


Robin Bisping, ETH Zurich; Johannes Willbold, Ruhr University Bochum; Martin Strohmeier and Vincent Lenders, Cyber-Defence Campus, armasuisse


This work considers the threat model of wireless signal injection attacks on Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) satellite modems. In particular, we investigate the feasibility to inject malicious wireless signals from a transmitter on the ground in order to compromise and manipulate the control of close-by satellite terminals. Based on a case study with a widely used commercial modem device, we find that VSATs are not designed to withstand simple signal injection attacks. The modems assume that any received signal comes from a legitimate satellite. We show that an attacker equipped with a low-cost software-defined radio (SDR) can inject arbitrary IP traffic into the internal network of the terminal. We explore different attacks that aim to deny service, manipulate the modem's firmware, or gain a remote admin shell. Further, we quantify their probability of success depending on the wireless channel conditions and the placement of the attacker versus the angle of arrival of the signal at the antenna dish of the receiver.

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