Ms. K.N. sent this article to me, and in the light of what I’ve been blogging about the past two days concerning space, this one is also worthy of mention. It seems that on April fool’s day, Russia’s GLONASS satellite system, its version of the GPS satellite system, went down completely:
The first article poses some interesting questions, evident in the title of the article itself, and summarized here:
“GLONASS is the equivalent of GPS, an alternative global navigation satellite system (GNSS) launched and operated by Russian Aerospace Defense Forces (RADF). Apart from GPS, it is the only other GNSS with global capability.
“It’s possible that the outage is related to either a new M-class solar storm — the start of which was reported about 48 hours ago — or recent X-class solar flare on March 29 at approximately 1700 UTC. The latter event caused a short-term radio blackout about one hour after the flare erupted.
“But there is conjecture that GLONASS’ outage is human in origin and possibly deliberate. The absence of any reported outage news regarding GPS and other active satellite systems suggests this is quite possible, given the unlikelihood that technology used in GLONASS differs dramatically from that used in other satellite systems.
“At least one observer mentioned that a monitoring system tripped at 21:00 UTC — 00:00 GLONASS system time. The odds of a natural event like a solar storm tripping at exactly top of the hour are ridiculously slim, especially since radiation ejected from the new M-class storm may not reach its peak effect on earth for another 24-48 hours.”(Emphasis added)
And there’s these possibilities:
“If the outage is based in human activity, the problem may have been caused by:
“— an accidental disabling here on earth, though RADF most likely has redundancies to prevent such a large outage;
“— deliberate tampering here on earth, though with RADF as operator this seems quite unlikely; or
“— deliberate tampering in space, either through scripts sent from earth, or technology installed with inherent flaws.
“The last is most likely, and of either scripts sent from earth or the flawed technology scenarios, the former is more likely to cause a widespread outage.”
In my opinion, I think we are looking at a cyber-warfare, a bit of “payback” perhaps, for Russia’s “non-compliance” to the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea. We’ve seen indications that some sort of cyber-war may be taking place, with the suspicious leaks of the phone calls of US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, and more recently(and much more damagingly) the Ukrainian “leaderette” Julia Tymoshenko and her calls for the deaths of 8,000,000 Russians. These events imply a clear interception of signals, and this implies, at some point, no matter how it may have been accomplished, an intelligence operation behind it. More recently, there have been rumors circulating on the internet that there is growing concern in Western security agencies about Russia’s apparent ability to avoid electronic eavesdropping.
Assuming that one is looking at cyber-warfare here, the result would seem to be indicative of something else, not the compartive “ease” by which the Russian system was taken down(without, apparently, affecting the US system, a strong indicator of possible cyber warfare activity), but rather, the relative speed by which the system was restored. Six hours, in modern military affairs, is a long time to be without GPS capability, but if there was an infection by a virus, it is a relatively short time to purge an entire system.
And that might have them worried, for if this was a test of Russian counter-cyber war capabilities, it would appear they may have passed the test.
See you on the flip side.