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Re: Any serious risk ?



> Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2000 20:10:57 +1300
> From: Jens Schmidt <j.schmidt@paradise.net.nz>
> Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Any serious risk ?
> 
> I do wonder how many radio amateurs grew up or played in Hyde Park
> in London ( soap box corner) !
> Have we not got more constructive things to do or think about.
> If any of you really have concerns about such issues, I think that you
> should have volunteered to contribute in the design and construction
> phases of the P3D project, then you might have a claim on being on
> the inside loop.
> This Thread is DEAD, now!

I believe that treating the challenges of protecting ground-to-satellite
command traffic as a network security problem may provide a useful model.

The current best practices in network security include using well-known
technologies that have been publicly disclosed, widely reviewed, and
demonstrated to withstand sustained attack.  In some sense, these
measures include two parts: trusted, publicly known and well-understood
algorithms and techniques, and secret parameters such as keys.  In this
context, one attribute of good security techniques is that the security of
a system is (obviously) dependent upon protecting the secret data
such as cryptographic keys, but not upon protecting the algorithms.
Certainly, this approach has been a bit controversial.  Some, particularly
the intelligence communities, wanted the discussions and understanding
of cryptographic techniques to remain highly restricted.  However, I
believe that there is now general agreement that the Internet is more
secure because good security techniques are widely understood.  (Never mind,
for the purposes of this discussion, that cryptography is still considered
a munition -- unless you are trying to launch your satellite from, say, 
Russia.)

With the widespread use of the Internet, these expectations have become
widespread.  Many of us may be willing to communicate our credit card
numbers over the Internet when we have assurances that a site is using
good, well understood technologies, such as SSL.  I would hope that we
would be skeptical of Web sites that promise to protect our credit
card numbers with undisclosed techniques ("We're really secure, just trust
us, but we won't tell you how we assure security").

I believe that open discussion of network security techniques and
their application to small satellites is important.  I would like to think
that this e-mail list is a reasonable forum, (although the AMSAT 
conferences are probably even better).  Note that we are not trying
to perform a public security review of the AO-40 command system.  We
don't have the information and don't want to publicly disclose major
security flaws.

I would like to think that, from the perspective of communications security,
that major amateur satellites use security techniques that are at least
as good as those that regularly protect my credit card numbers over the
Internet.  I would hasten to add, however, that this is a very high
expectation, given the long gestation period for AO-40 and the rate
at which network security techniques have advanced.

I don't know if this thread is dead, but personally, I would like to
see widespread discussion, understanding, and use of strong communications
security techniques in the small satellite communities.

-tjs
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