With just $300 worth of equipment and (legal) access to an uplink station, you can also broadcast WarGames from a decommissioned Canadian satellite — that’s what a hacking enthusiast Carl Kosher showed everyone over the weekend at the annual Def Con Hacker meeting in Las Vegas. As a new record from Mother board more specifically, after gaining access to an abandoned uplink facility, Kosher and friends used a software-defined radio called Hack the Russian Federation to connect with Canada does not exist Anik F1R companion last year and “have fun with it”.
After 15 years of loyal service, the telecommunications satellite in a geostationary orbit approximately 22,236 miles above Earth was put out to pasture in 2020, with further plans to move it into a “graveyard orbit” in November 2021. In this window of purgatory, however, Kosher and his friends in the hacking group, ShadyTelobtained both the license to use the unused uplink system and the lease of the Anik F1R satellite transponder.
“What are you doing with a satellite? What does a hacker do with a satellite?” Koshar told Mother board. “… We had the opportunity to use a satellite that was decommissioned … We also had the opportunity to put our own content there.”
Which of course is exactly what Kosher and team did. Using their new satellite, the group was able to broadcast the talks from that year ToorCon a hacker conference in San Diego by day and screening fan-favorite movies by night. The extra bandwidth also allowed them to set up a dedicated telephone conference line for continent-wide calls and broadcasts.
Kosher went on to explain how satellites essentially just reflect whatever signals are sent their way. “There’s no authentication or anything,” he said at the time. Although you would hypothetically need a stronger signal than anyone else trying to broadcast to a satellite, abandoned signals provide a unique and simplified option for those who want hack the planet.