Hacking is actually a broad topic. Despite what stock photos of people hunched over in hoodies might have you believe, there is actually a very large community of ethical hackers out there. Some ethical hackers look for holes in software to find exploits and notify a developer before one of the bad guys does. Some of them do it for fun, either privately, in small groups, or at gatherings known as hackathons. Others make a living from it. Technology companies like Google often offer huge rewards to hackers who can crack their software. Then you have the illegal stuff, which is also a big money maker, but one that can land you in federal prison for the rest of your life if caught.
Specifically, hacking satellites – that can also be legal if you check the right boxes first. Even after decommissioning, satellites are still owned by someone. If the owner finds out what you’ve done, you could get into legal trouble. Then there is the whole list of regulations that come with the operation and use of satellites. Even if the satellite owner doesn’t care, you can still get in trouble with the FCC.
The hack performed by Kosher was perfectly legal. Prior to execution, a lease was acquired for the satellite’s transponder, which is the part that manages what information the satellite sends and receives. Kosher also acquired a license so he could use the abandoned uplink station selected for the task without getting in trouble with authorities. If you also want to hijack a satellite legally, there is a similar amount of paperwork and some fees. But once that’s out of the way, things can actually get less complex.