Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the satellite has experienced serious failures. He will become the target of a cyberattack. In France, French Internet users no longer have access to the network.
This is perhaps the very first cyber event related to the war between Ukraine and Russia, which took place in space. In any case, the first cyber event that catches the eye of the general public. The American company Viasat, which has been operating the Ka-Sat satellite since April 2021, announced a partial failure of the satellite on February 28, 2022. may be the result of a cyberattack.
On the Via Satellite website, the company indicated that it was investigating and testing this hypothesis, and ” identify the root cause about this failure that occurred at the end of February on Ka-Sat. ” We are taking additional online precautions to prevent further impact while we try to restore service to affected customers. ” added the operator.
A bond that breaks on the day of the invasion
A sharp drop in connection speed was noted on February 24 by NetBlocks, which maintains an observatory for freedom of access to the Internet (and which is very closely following what is happening in Ukraine, listing outages that affect sites and Internet users). While connectivity typically exceeds 80%, it dropped to 20% on the day of the Russian invasion.
A feature of Ka-Sat is the provision of an Internet connection through space – like Starlink. The spacecraft, formerly owned by Eutelsat, has been in orbit since May 2011. It provides a high-speed connection (bandwidth 90 Gbps, downlink speed up to 50 Mbps) for the Mediterranean and Europe and therefore Ukraine.
It is currently the only affected satellite in the Viasat fleet. No other operator has so far publicly reported a similar event. But for Internet users who depend on Ka-Sat, the cyber event had very specific consequences, including in France, Le Figaro reported on February 28.
French company NordNet, which provides solutions for Internet access via radio, fiber and satellite, already signaled on February 24 ” general malfunction of the Ka-Sat satellite communication service “. But at that time there was no question of indignation caused by what amounted to an offensive action on the satellite.
The incident, in any case, persists: another message published on March 1, stating that ” some of our subscribers are deprived of satellite Internet “. NordNet confirms that it is ” technical incident at our supplier Viasat ”, but the operator is hesitant to qualify it. In response, several customers expressed their concerns.
How big is the break? NordNet has 1.1 million subscribers as of 2019, but the number of victims is much lower: Le Figaro mentions ten thousand Internet users who are disconnected. It is not yet known when Viasat will be able to restore a suitable connection: on the seventh day of the conflict, this was not yet the case.