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Dr. James Pavur - Space Jam: Exploring Radio Frequency Attacks in Outer Space

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  • Dr. James Pavur - Space Jam: Exploring Radio Frequency Attacks in Outer Space

    Dr. James Pavur - Space Jam: Exploring Radio Frequency Attacks in Outer Space

    Dr. James Pavur, Digital Service Expert, Defense Digital Service, He/Hiim

    Presentation Title: Space Jam: Exploring Radio Frequency Attacks in Outer Space
    Length of presentation: 45 minutes
    Demo, Tool

    Satellite designs are myriad as stars in the sky, but one common denominator across all modern missions is their dependency on long-distance radio links. In this briefing, we will turn a hacker’s eye towards the signals that are the lifeblood of space missions. We’ll learn how both state and non-state actors can, and have, executed physical-layer attacks on satellite communications systems and what their motivations have been for causing such disruption.

    Building on this foundation, we’ll present modern evolutions of these attack strategies which can threaten next-generation space missions. From jamming, to spoofing, to signal hijacking, we’ll see how radio links represent a key attack surface for space platforms and how technological developments make these attacks ever more accessible and affordable. We’ll simulate strategies attackers may use to cause disruption in key space communications links and even model attacks which may undermine critical safety controls involved in rocket launches.

    The presentation will conclude with a discussion of strategies which can defend against many of these attacks.

    While this talk includes technical components, it is intended to be accessible to all audiences and does not assume any prior background in radio communications, astrodynamics, or aerospace engineering. The hope is to provide a launchpad for researchers across the security community to contribute to protecting critical infrastructure in space and beyond.


    Dr. James Pavur is a Digital Service Expert at the DoD Directorate of Digital Services where he advises and assists the US Department of Defense in implementing modern digital solutions to urgent and novel challenges. Prior to joining DDS, James received his PhD. from Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science as a Rhodes Scholar. His thesis “Securing New Space: On Satellite Cybersecurity” focused on the security of modern space platforms - with a particular interest in vulnerability identification and remediation. His previous research on satellite security has been published at top academic venues, such as IEEE S&P and NDSS, presented at major cybersecurity conferences, including Black Hat USA and DEFCON, and covered in the popular press. Outside of tech, James enjoys flying kites and collecting rare and interesting teas.

    Twitter: @jamespavur
    Github: @pavja2


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    Cyber-Security Research” (Under final editing for OUP Journal of Cybersecurity: Will update citation as soon as published. This is a survey paper with over 200 references on space cyber stuff). 2022. Preprint here:

    Last edited by number6; July 1, 2022, 23:52.