Identifying the scope of the applicable international law rules towards malicious cyber activities against space assets

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This article studies five category of malicious cyber activities against space assets in order to assess to what extent the existing international telecommunications law and space law address them and identify which rules are lacking to effectively solve such incidents. Five category of such activities include to jam, hijack, hack, spoof, and rob the control of telemetry, tracking and control (T&C) of a satellite, a kind of anti-satellite (ASAT). More specifically, he following five cases are studied: (i) Iranian intentional jamming of the Eutelsat satellite solved in the ITU/RRB; (ii)a terrorist organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam hijacking an Intelsat-12 satellite solved by diplomatic negotiations between the Sri Lankan and US Governments using law enforcement under ITU regime; (iii) allegedly Chinese hacking of US NOAA's information systems; (iv) Iranian spoofing of the NPT/GPS signals to guide a US/CIA's RQ-170 UAV into the Iranian territory; and (v) allegedly Chinese taking control of US NASA's Landsat-7. Tentative conclusions are that it can be said that international telecommunication laws including those under the ITU provide necessary legal mechanisms on which reasonable solutions is attained when “harmful interference� is conducted by a nongovernmental entity. To better solve the conflicts between States in this regard, emerging space law norms relating to TCBM and the pursuit of the consultation in case of the “potentially harmful interference� may help. The remaining and thorny issues include that cases (iii), (iv) and (v) which need careful examinations of the UN treaties on outer space including Articles VI and IX of the Outer Space Treaty, and customary international law of responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event69th International Astronautical Congress: #InvolvingEveryone, IAC 2018 - Bremen, Germany
Duration: 2018 Oct 12018 Oct 5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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