Def Con 2020: A space odyssey, hacking an orbiting satellite

The U.S. Air Force was so impressed with the work hackers accomplished on an F-15’s data flight system at Def Con in August that it plans to unleash them on an orbiting satellite at the 2020 Def Con.

Wired is reporting that Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, has promised to give hackers a whack at a satellite and its ground station allowing them to try and take over the craft by any means they can find, he told Wired. The goal is to see if the satellite can be accessed and have its cameras turned from the Earth to the moon.

The final researchers who will be given a chance to go after the satellite will have to go through a somewhat lengthy vetting process. Wired wrote that a call for submissions will soon go out. From that group some will be selected to put their idea to use during a text phase and the finalists will be drawn from that group winning a flight to Def Con to compete in the live hacking contest.

Allowing outsiders to find fault with Air Force software is nothing new. The service has operated three bug bounty programs with the latest taking place last fall.

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