China accused of attacking US satellites

China has once again been accused of commit acts of cyber-warfare, with a congressional commission claiming evidence of interference with US government satellites.

According to the annual report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, due to be released in its final form next month, Chinese hackers used a ground station in Norway to interrupt the operation of the Landsat-7 and Terra AM-1 satellites in 2007 and 2008 for reasons unknown.

The breaches saw the Landsat-7 satellite experience around 12 minutes of interference in October 2007 and July 2008, while the Terra AM-1 satellite was taken down for two minutes in June 2008 and again for nine minutes in October. Both satellites are used for air and ground observation.

"Such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions," the draft report explains. "Access to a satellite‘s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. An attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite's transmission."

This is far from the first time China has been accused of attacks on other nations' digital infrastructures: Google maintains that China was behind an attack on its Gmail webmail infrastructure, while it has been strongly hinted that the attack resulting in the leak of details protecting the RSA SecureID platform also originated from a 'nation state.'

In a recent exclusive interview with thinq_, Greg Hoglund, CEO of US security specialist HBGary, accused China of engaging in a "new Cold War" in cyberspace.

The report goes on to claim that China has "conducted a supported a range of malicious cyber activities," including active attacks on government infrastructure through this current year.

China, for its part, denies the whole thing. In a statement to Bloomberg, Wang Baodong of the Chinese Embassy in Washington accused the commission of "collecting unproved stories to serve its purpose of vilifying China's international image over the years," and claimed that his country "Never does anything that endangers other countries' security interest."