Canadian Satellites are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks, Defence Dept Warns

Crucial satellites essential to Canadian military operations are vulnerable to cyberattacks, even a direct missile strike, an internal Defence Department note has warned.

According to a CBC report, a Defence Department within the Canadian military sees critical satellites essential for fundamental tasks including navigation, positioning, communications, intelligence-gathering and surveillance are vulnerable to hacking attacks.

The department, in a note dubbed: ‘Space Technology Trends: Threats and Opportunities’, called underlined the intent to protect and defend military space technology as a “very important change” within the new policy. Specifically, the new policy calls for a heightened focus on space, calling for “innovative investment” to enable the National Defence to fend off international threats.

The statement added:

What ‘defending and protecting’ these assets means in practice will evolve, as technology and international discussions mature.

The note adds that China, as an example, has demonstrated the means to destroy its low-orbit weather satellite with a ballistic missile. Electronic jamming, a directed energy attack or a cyberattack could temporarily or even permanently disable a satellite, the note added.

The note also added that Canada is working with the US, its natural ally, and others to develop the know-how of quickly dispatching replacement for damaged or destroyed critical space assets. The advent of artificial intelligence, like a robotic arm, in space technology is increasingly vulnerable to sabotage, according to Dave Perry, vice-president and senior analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

He stated:

“If you can figure out a way to affect the software, then that’s a potential vulnerability. Whereas before you would have (needed to fly) someone there, and actually put them on the piece of equipment, to be able to do something.”

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