- A senior defence industry analyst is
contesting computer hackers' claims to have altered the course of one of
the UK's military communications satellites.
- Scotland Yard's Fraud Squad is investigating
allegations of blackmail at several international locations after the hackers
reportedly demanded a ransom payment to stop interfering with a Skynet
- However, Paul Beaver, group spokesman
for the Jane's Information Group, told BBC News Online: "I cannot
see how it is possible for someone to hack in - it is a closed loop system,
not connected to the Internet.
- "You cannot get in unless you get
in the way of a microwave signal or are at one of the Ministry of Defence's
(MOD) sending locations. The only way in would be through the American
system during a time of war, but this is not a time of war.
- "Privately, the MOD are saying this
is where the problem may be and are investigating whether there is an American
leak. The UK system is much better as it is absolutely stand alone."
- The MOD told BBC News Online: "The
story is complete nonsense. All our satellites are where they should be
and doing what they should be doing. It's all systems go."
- But a hacking expert, David Levy, says:
"They would say that, wouldn't they? To say you can't do something
- "When people say something in software
or hardware can't be done, they are being unrealistic. What they mean is
they can see no way it can be done.
- "The RSA encryption algorithm was
supposed to be uncrackable until two guys in Cambridge University did it.
Nothing is impossible."
- Mr Levy runs Tiger Computer Security.
The firm advises companies on security by hacking into their systems and
then explaining how to close the loopholes they find.
- Skynet is essential
- The fifth Skynet satellite was launched
on Saturday from French Guyana. The network provides support for strategic
and tactical nuclear forces and maritime, air and land forces. The MOD
describe Skynet as "essential to support all aspects of modern military
- They are controlled by microwave signal.
Unlike radio waves, which spread out in all directions, the microwaves
used have a "pencil" beam. This spreads by only three centimetres
for every 10,000km travelled.
- The location of the sending stations
means that anyone wishing to intercept and change the signals would have
to build a tower in south-west London.
- An alternative might be to send signals
directly but Mr Beaver says: "This would require a "very, very
high-powered transmitter and someone would have detected that. You can't
just move your satellite TV dish around."