A group of ethical Italian hackers managed to hack a US satellite. He did it legally, without harming anyone, and won the US government’s coveted cybersecurity award. The name of the group is Mhackeroni. A very Italian name. A play between “Hacker” and the well-known pasta shape.
They, a team of researchers and students from the universities of Milan, Turin, Rome, Padua, Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Burma and Perugia, penetrated the security systems and controlled the satellite while it was actively orbiting. Space.
Mhackeroni, the best group of Italian universities
Mhackeroni has been an active team since 2018. So far they have made it to the finals of Def Con (the name of the competition held in Las Vegas) Hack-A-Sat event four times.
But this year they went all the way and won a $50,000 prize awarded by the Space Force and the United States Air Force, the departments responsible for space defense, and the Air Force of the country that organized the competition. Italy beat finalists Poland and Switzerland.
The team shared their win and moments from the award ceremony on social channels. Along with them were challengers invited to the US by the US government, which funded everything to test internal security systems and find any bugs that could be exploited by hostile computer scientists. The satellite the team controls is named “Moonlighter”.
US satellite hacked by Italian group and photography from space
It is a 3U CubeSat (consisting of three units), built by Aerospace Corporation in collaboration with the Space Force. It was launched on June 5 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station, from where it was sent into low-Earth orbit on July 6.
Mahakaroni beat five finalist teams. They were the first to breach Moonlighter’s security and take pictures from a satellite. This was an integral part of the challenge, and perhaps the hardest part: forcing the satellite to take the Earth image they wanted and download it to the Earth station.
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