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Hackers Eye Satellite Network to Combat Censorship

December 31, 2011

Citing the increasing threat of online censorship from governments internationally, computer hackers have announced plans to place their own communication satellites into orbit.

According to BBC News Technology Reporter David Meyer, the plan, which was detailed this week during the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) in Berlin, is in response to proposed legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would allow the U.S. government to block websites believed to violate intellectual property law.

“The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space,” hacking activity Nick Farr, who initially began soliciting financial support for what has been dubbed the Hackerspace Global Grid, in August, told Meyer on Friday. “Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities“¦ [The hacker] community can put humanity back in space in a meaningful way.”

Meyer reports that while some hobbyists have managed to successfully place small satellites into orbit for short periods of time, but that tracking them have proved difficult due to budget constraints.

Those involved with the Hackerspace Global Grid believe that if they are able to raise enough capital in order to overcome those difficulties, and ultimately, they hope to be able to send an amateur astronaut to the moon — perhaps within the next quarter century, according to BBC News.

The Berlin conference was the latest meeting held by the Chaos Computer Club, a decades-old German hacker group that has proven influential not only for those interested in exploiting or improving computer security, but also for people who enjoy tinkering with hardware and software.

The report suggests that the individuals working on the satellite network are doing so in an “open-source spirit,” with 26-year-old Armin Bauer of Stuttgart and colleagues working on the communications infrastructure of the ambitious project.

With the assistance of German aerospace research initiative Constellation, they are working on what Bauer describes as a sort of “reverse GPS,” which would let them know the precise locations of the satellites in much the same way that GPS probes help customers pinpoint their location on Earth.

Bauer told Meyer that the team intents to have three prototype ground stations operational during the first half of next year, and is looking to sell them for approximately 100 Euros per unit.

Earlier this week at the CCC event, German researchers Julian Wälde and Alexander Klink reported finding a method by which hackers could use a single machine and a modest broadband connection to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks against websites created using several popular programming languages and other Web applications, including ASP .Net.

Their revelation prompted Microsoft to release an emergency or “out-of-band” security update Thursday to deal with the “zero-day vulnerability,” Gregg Keizer of Computerworld and Fahmida Y. Rashid of eWeek reported on December 29.

According to Rashid, the security flaw can be exploited by cybercriminals to essentially consume all of a Web server’s CPU resources, ultimately resulting in denial-of-service conditions.

“The exploit uses a specially crafted HTTP request containing thousands of form values to create a hash table that is computationally expensive to process,” she wrote on Thursday. “Any ASP.NET Website that accepts form data is likely to be vulnerable, as well as Web servers running the default configuration of Internet Information Services (IIS) when ASP.NET is enabled, according to the post.”

“An HTTP request that is merely 100KB in size can lock up 100 percent of a single CPU core for almost 2 minutes on the ASP.NET platform. Attackers could repeatedly send these requests and cause the server’s performance to degrade significantly and cause a denial of service,” Rashid added, noting that experts believe that the attack “could even impact multicore servers and server clusters.”

Meyer notes that this week’s CCC conference is “the latest meeting held by the Chaos Computer Club, a decades-old German hacker group that has proven influential not only for those interested in exploiting or improving computer security, but also for people who enjoy tinkering with hardware and software.”

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Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports



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