Satellite hacking easy with know-how, experts say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 12:00am

It would be easy for someone with a little expertise to hijack a mainland television satellite, telecommunications experts said.

Roger Smith, of the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union, said the culprits would need to know the coverage area of the satellite, its frequency band and the location from where its signals were normally transmitted. 'It's just like a reflected mirror in terms of electronic signals,' he said.

Mr Smith said the hijackers would have had to deal with security measures such as access codes. 'An amateur can't beam TV signals via the satellites as there is a complicated decoding method involved,' said Cheung Sing-wai, associate professor with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Hong Kong University.

In all the cases where Falun Gong messages have been beamed over hijacked mainland satellites, it was reported that those responsible had the access codes, rendering the security system useless.

The observers said it was technically possible for a government to pinpoint the source of a hacking attempt, but it would be difficult to arrest a suspect. Most countries had the technology to trace the source of rogue signals, Mr Smith said.

However, an official in Taipei said finding the hackers would not be easy. Lin Ching-chih, of the Ministry of Transport and Communication, said Taiwanese authorities had been unable to make an arrest.

He said the hackers could have used a moving vehicle as a platform for transmission.