Russia Denies Satellite Hacking and Warns of Wider War

Russia has warned that any cyber-attack on its satellite systems will be treated as an act of war, as tensions with the West rise over its invasion of Ukraine.

The head of the country’s Roscosmos space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, issued the warning yesterday on a Russian TV channel, according to the country’s news agency Interfax.

“I want to warn everyone who tries to do it that it is essentially a crime, which should be toughly punished. Because disabling the satellite group of any country is generally a casus belli, that is, a reason to go to war,” he’s quoted as saying.

“We will be looking for those who organized it. We will send all necessary materials to the Federal Security Service, the Investigative Committee, and the Prosecutor General’s Office for relevant criminal cases to be opened.”

At the same time, Rogozin is said to have denied reports that Roscosmos satellite control centers had been hacked.

Online collective Anonymous, which has launched a campaign against the Kremlin in retaliation for its invasion, claimed this week to have done exactly that.

“The Russian Space Agency sure does love their satellite imaging,” it said. “Better yet they sure do love their vehicle monitoring system. The WSO2 was deleted, credentials were rotated and the server is shut down … Have a nice Monday fixing your spying tech. Glory to Ukraine.”

In related news, Rogozin reportedly demanded the UK government sell its stake in British satellite connectivity firm OneWeb, or else a planned Soyuz launch of 36 satellites would not go ahead.

Roscosmos also asked for “comprehensive legally binding guarantees” that the Low Earth Orbit technology would not be used for military purposes.

The government has refused to sell its shares in OneWeb but reportedly is considering its options. The technology is likely to be used by the British and American military. Once the entire constellation of satellites is up and running, it could provide users with an alternative to traditional connectivity.

That could be a headache for autocratic regimes like Russia, which like to control the flow of information, especially at times of war.

Flying at a lower altitude still than OneWeb’s satellites is Elon Musk’s Starlink. The tech billionaire sent a lorry-load of satellite dishes to Ukraine this week at the government’s request.

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