Aerospace Cybersecurity: Satellite Hacking (W53) - Pentestmag

DURATION: 18 hours

CPE POINTS: On completion you get a certificate granting you 18 CPE points. 

Course launch date: September 18th, 2023

This course teaches the foundations of satellite cybersecurity by guiding you through the reconnaissance, communication dissection, decoding, and vulnerability analysis of satellite systems through interactive activities and tutorials. Learn about the underlying concepts of what makes satellite network infrastructure function and apply your knowledge to conduct digital forensics on real life satellites in orbit.  

Who is this course for?

This course is meant for anyone who wants to learn more about space-related cybersecurity specifically in relation to satellite systems. This course is meant for anyone of any skill level who is interested in expanding their skill set in satellite reconnaissance and vulnerability analysis.

Why take it NOW?

The space industry has been expanding rapidly the past few years and this trend is expected to continue as more companies and organizations conduct space-related research and projects. The democratization and demand in the aerospace industry has also encountered bad actors who try to exploit the new technology for malicious purposes. In order to combat this growing threat, this course instructs you on the foundations of satellite security and detection methods for common satellite cyber attacks.

Why this course?

Learning aerospace cybersecurity is crucial in today's interconnected world, where technology plays a pivotal role in the aerospace industry. As the aerospace sector becomes increasingly reliant on digital systems, including aircraft controls, communication networks, and satellite operations, the potential vulnerabilities and risks also grow. By learning aerospace cybersecurity, individuals can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to protect these critical systems from cyber threats and attacks.

Course benefits:

What skills will you gain?​​ ​​​

  • A deep understanding of satellite communication systems
  • Space-based OSINT skills
  • Using Python scripts to retrieve satellite telemetry
  • Digital forensics techniques with satellites
  • Decoding and identifying satellite communication protocols
  • Detecting for satellite hacking

What will you learn about?

  1. Orbital Mechanics
  2. Satellite Reconnaissance
  3. Decoding Satellite Communication
  4. Satellite On-Board Systems
  5. Listening to Satellites via Radio Frequencies
  6. Vulnerability Analysis of Satellites
  7. Common Attacks employed against satellites
  8. Detection of satellite hacking

What tools will you use?

  • A variety of online OSINT tools such as N2YO and Celestrak
  • Python

Course general information: 

Course format: 

  • Self-paced
  • Pre-recorded
  • Accessible even after you finish the course
  • No preset deadlines
  • Materials are video, labs, and text
  • All videos captioned

What will you need?

A computer with Python3 and Pip installed.

What should you know before you join?

Only a basic understanding of Python is required.

YOUR INSTRUCTOR - Angelina Tsuboi

Angelina Tsuboi is a programmer, mechatronics developer, and cybersecurity researcher who is currently working for NASA. She is interested in educating others about the exciting field of aerospace cybersecurity in conjunction with developing her own programs and research in the field.



Module 1

 Satellite Reconnaissance

Satellite reconnaissance is the first stage of any satellite attack process and is critical to learn in order to extract valuable data about the target satellite, such as its telemetry, protocols / encryption methods, and orbital parameters. Students will learn how to track down any satellite in space using open source tools and data sets.

Module 1 covered topics: 

  • Satellite Identification 
  • Orbital Parameters and Mechanics
  • Two-Line Element Set Extraction and Interpretation
  • OSINT Tools for Satellite Data Extraction
  • Visualization of Satellite in Orbit
  • Using Python scripts to parse satellite information

Module 1 exercises:

  • Quizzes and questions about what data can and cannot be extracted about satellites
  • Exercises to compute and visualize a satellite in orbit and its telemetry
  • TLE reading and analysis questions
  • Tests to check ability to successfully use Python scripts to analyze satellite telemetry

Module 2

Communication Analysis and Eavesdropping

The key vulnerability of satellites exists within their use of long-range communication to ground stations via open network security protocols. In this section, students will learn how to analyze communication data transmitted and received by satellites and the underlying concepts of how it works. This is imperative for students to learn because most attacks conducted on satellites involve some sort of manipulation of the satellite’s communication architecture.

Module 2 covered topics: 

  • Communication Foundations
  • Frequency Bands and EM Waves
  • Uplink, Downlink, and Communication Methods
  • SATCOM explanation and problems of SATCOM
  • Satellite Onboard Systems
  • Technologies to listen to satellites
  • Intercepting Satellite Signals

Module 2 exercises:

  • Quizzes and questions about what the underlying concepts that make satellite communication work
  • Questions on satellite communication terminology
  • Interactive exercises using decoders 
  • Questions about satellite communication protocols
  • Identification and questions about satellite onboard systems

Module 3

Reverse Engineering and Decoding Communication

This module covers the techniques necessary to decode satellite communication and what data can be extracted out of satellite communication. This is important to learn because most satellite systems do not adhere to a rigid communication protocol, making them vulnerable to decoding by ground-based attackers.

Module 3 covered topics:

  • Communication Protocols
  • Finding satellite passes 
  • Azimuth and elevation explanation
  • Frequency band extraction exercises using OSINT skills
  • Reverse Engineering Communication
  • SDR tools for communication extraction
  • Bandwidth and sample rate walkthrough
  • Obtaining satellite transmissions
  • Decoding Communication

Module 3 exercises:

  • Quizzes and questions about satellite frequencies and analysis
  • Pass prediction exercises using online resources
  • Questions about SDR tools and how to use them
  • Reverse engineering technique questions
  • Exercises on decoding images from APT satellites

Module 4

Vulnerabilities and Attacks

The vulnerability and attack section of the course will cover common attacks that are employed to hack into satellites and what vulnerabilities they target. Students will get insight into what technologies are used to hack into satellites and how to mitigate attacks by delving into modern encryption protocols.

Module 4 covered topics:

  • Types of attacks 
  • Jamming / Spoofing
  • Eavesdropping
  • Hijacking and Control
  • TT&C Explanation
  • Common Attack Strategies
  • GNSS Spoofing Example
  • Detecting for Satellite Hacking
  • Attack Mitigation Strategies
  • Future of Aerospace Cybersecurity
  • Resources for Further Exploration

Module 4 exercises:

  • Questions and quizzes that ask the student to identify the attack / vulnerability given a description of a situation
  • Questions on TT&C
  • GNSS Spoofing exercise
  • Attack Mitigation quiz questions
  • Test on attack strategies and identification

Final Exam

  • Satellite Identification 
  • Orbital Parameters and Mechanics
  • Reading TLEs
  • Visualization of Satellite in Orbit
  • Communication Foundations
  • Frequency Bands and EM Waves
  • Intercepting Satellite Signals
  • Finding satellite passes 
  • Azimuth and elevation 
  • Decoding satellite communication
  • Types of attacks 
  • TT&C
  • Satellite hacking detection methods
  • Attack Mitigation Strategies


Questions? Reach out to us at [email protected].

Course Reviews


5 ratings
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  1. Best course of my life !


    For anyone aspiring to aerospace cybersecurity, I’d recommend this course, which uncovers a number of extremely interesting topics.
    The fact that Angelina shares a lot of resources for further study means that you can continue to explore this vast universe on your own.
    Thank you so much!

  2. Review for - Aerospace Cybersecurity: Satellite Hacking (W53)


    Aerospace Cybersecurity: Satellite Hacking (W53) is an excellent course covering all the theoretical and practical details very methodically and instructor mage it very easy for learners to grasp the minute Technical details of satellite. It was an amazing experience and will mark a new beginning for me in a new and futuristic domain. However, its practical details about how to get live Datasets and working on them is limited and may be further improved.

  3. Satellite Hacking


    The course has been very infromational, started from the very basic and leading to the practical OSINT and CTF walk throughs. This course has really helped me in establishing more understanding of how a satellite communicates. I am looking forward to practise the CTF related to satellite hacking available over the internet. Thanks for educating the people

  4. To anyone interested in exploring the fascinating realm of satellite cybersecurity


    This course was for me an incredible journey. In this course, I developed my skills in: Satellite reconnaissance, Communication Analysis and Eavesdropping, Reverse Engineering and Decoding Communication, Vulnerabilities and Attacks. The final exam was very challenging. There was purely cybersecurity questions that were easy for me to answer. But there was also questions of a more general nature that ware very challenging. This Satellite Cybersecurity course will provide a comprehensive understanding of satellite hacking techniques, along with the tools and strategies required to defend against them using digital forensics and attack vector detection. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in exploring the fascinating realm of satellite cybersecurity. It offers a comprehensive learning experience that equips you with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate and safeguard satellite systems effectively. A special thank’s to the amazing instructor Angelina Tsuboi and the entire course team for their dedication and expertise in curating such an enriching educational experience.

  5. Great Beginner Level Space Based Cyber Course


    Ive been working in the space industry for about seven years, and specifically with cyber operations for the last four. I’ve taken various courses and workshops and only one of these attempted to blend beginner-level cyber with space topics. This integration is typically rare, as the two subjects are usually taught separately. However, Ms. Angelina Tsuboi did an excellent job connecting space and cyber, providing a solid starting point for anyone interested in Space-Based Cyber. This approach is particularly noteworthy given that this area of cybersecurity tends to be more advanced. As such, it’s impressive to see a course tailored for beginners, especially considering the expected growth of the space industry in the coming years. The content is comprehensive and even intermediate and advanced learners can benefit from it. I appreciated the longer and more in-depth videos (20-30 minutes), which differ from the shorter ones commonly found on other learning platforms. While there weren’t significant issues with the content, some videos did end abruptly at the end without a conclusion. But this did not detract significantly from the learning experience. The end-of-course test is manageable if you pay attention and take good notes throughout the course. Overall, this was a great learning experience, and I’m excited to see what future courses Ms. Tsuboi has in store.

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