Satellite Security: The Satellite Leach

Satellite data is received, processed, sometimes stored and then transmitted. It is the ‘processing’ where the leach attacks satellite security.


This satellite security post is a concept and not a prototype or service offering. This post is for entertainment and thought provocation with regard to the future of satellite security capabilities designed to provide consideration of a single security element.


Leaches are absurd little creatures that attach themselves to other beings and survive by sucking the blood of their host. In short they are little vampires. This same concept can be used in satellite technologies. A pseudo-satellite can be created that acts very much like the very real leach. It can ‘attach’ itself to a host satellite and ‘suck’ the data right out of it.

Satellite Basics

Satellite technologies are not unlike many others that are affixed to the earth’s surface. Yes, some of the protocols and techniques are slightly different as are the components but take a step back and look at the concepts. Satellite data is received, processed, sometimes stored and then transmitted. It is the ‘processing’ where the leach attacks satellite security.

Satellite Leach Consumption Capabilities

The Satellite leach may use physical or magnetic attachment capabilities. Like a genuine leach it searches for a ‘live’ host that has ‘warm blood’ (transmitting signal). Once it selects a host it attaches itself and begins sucking data through emanations. It then transmits this data using cellular technology to its forwarder. The forwarder aggregates leach data from many leaches and forwards the information to an attacker’s environment on earth, in orbit, or other location.

Why Satellite Security Matters

Emanation security is a real threat. The majority of satellites do not encrypt their data and the ones that do process the encryption keys in a way that can be stolen via a satellite leach (theoretically). Even if satellite communications are encrypted and the satellite has no knowledge of the keys a leach can consume agreement data about how keys are created, which ones are used, or other sensitive data that may permit the inference of plausible keying characteristics.

Satellite Security: The Salt

Have you ever doused salt on a leach? The end result is death for the leach. This same approach needs to be used on satellites. If another object enters close proximity it should have a defensive ‘salting’ mechanism. The satellite would ‘douse’ any approacher in electro-magnetic and/or a direct-electric discharge designed to render it inoperable.

Satellite Security Conclusions

When it’s good practice on the surface of the earth it’s good practice in the orbit of the earth. The defenses in orbit may differ slightly because human intervention is less practical though. Emanation security is just one area where satellites may require advances.