U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Captain Midnight and the Space Hackers

NCJ Number
Security Management Volume: 32 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1988) Pages: 77-79,82
J J B Bloombecker
Date Published
4 pages
In 1986, a disgruntled satellite dish dealer demonstrated the vulnerability of the satellite communications network to intentional interference by disrupting a cable television transmission to viewers east of the Mississippi.
Because the same system is used to transmit commercial computer data, military information, and a variety of other sensitive electronic messages, the Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation to apprehend the perpetrator and broadcasters and satellite operators started to tighten their security. While much has been done to protect against such interference, the transmission stations (uplinks) that send signals to the satellites remain vulnerable to interference. To respond to this threat, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act contains a provision making it a felony to interfere intentionally or maliciously with the authorized operation of a satellite or to hinder any satellite transmission. The Act also expands the investigative jurisdiction to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the television case, the offender eventually was identified by identifying the character generator at the uplink used to disrupt the transmission. Since then, an automatic transmitter identification system has been proposed to aid investigation of similar cases. In addition, traditional security procedures have been enhanced at uplinks including better access control and logging and monitoring procedures.