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Cyber warfare hits Viasat/KA-Sat

March 16, 2022

California-based satellite operator Viasat has been suffering from alleged electronic warfare emanating from Russia. Reports suggest that hackers have deliberately disrupted satellite signals to and from Ukraine and in particular using the (formerly Eutelsat-owned) KA-Sat.

Reuters, for example, is reporting that the cyber attacks have affected about 10,000 terminals. The attacks started as long ago as February 24th and disabled modems across Europe.

Viasat, according to reports at the time, said it was experiencing a partial network outage for users to its fixed broadband services using its European Ka-band network.

Eutelsat and Viasat operated KA-Sat as a joint-venture until 2020 but subsequently Viasat bought its former partner out paying €140 million for the satellite.

Viasat now says that the disruption was deliberate but had since been stabilised and that the company was restoring and reactivating terminals as quickly as possible.

On February 28th Elon Musk shipped two truck-loads of SpaceX’s Starlink terminals in Ukraine to provide broadband service and connectivity. However, he Tweeted on March 1st that Starlink signals were being deliberately jammed near the Ukraine conflict areas.

One US expert, Glenn Gerstell, former General Counsel of the US National Security Agency from 2015 to 2020, stated that Russia is using Ukraine as a “cyber punching bag”.

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