Thousands of satellites are orbiting the Earth with a number of purposes like communications, navigation using GPS, forecasting the weather or conducting surveillance. However, different spacefaring Nations are gearing up for a new race for space arms as 1300 satellites are active for various functions.
The military sector of various countries covertly analyzes the information from these satellites in order to be prepared for warfare of modern times. The three main countries that lead the pack are China, America, and the USSR. In case a space war actually breaks out, it will cripple the whole infrastructure and also reduce the capabilities of these satellites.
The main way of harming the satellites is to interfere with its functioning in some way. It could be either in the orbit itself or through some actions from the ground. A few common methods include using anti-satellite weapons and spraying paint over the optical part of it. Manually, snapping and disabling antennas and other crucial parts of the satellite can also work. Another popular method is to use lasers which can both temporarily and permanently disable the functionality of the satellites. If you look at a grounded approach, emission of microwaves can hijack or jam signals which are mainly used for communication.
Experts have been warning about space wars for the last few decades and it is not something very new or novel. In fact, as early as the 1950s, the Soviet Union started developing weapons that could be launched from the orbit which urged the US to create anti-satellite weapons. However, before things could escalate more, a treaty was signed in 1967 in the United Nations as the Outer Space Treaty, which disallowed anyone to launch weapons of mass destruction from the orbit. This led to the development of surveillance based satellites for prior information about military activities. Even during the times of the Cold War, USSR introduced space mines in the space which would destroy any satellites that came in its path.
The recent situation is a little different as more than 60 nations have their satellites up and running in space these days for a number of commercial and research activities. Though the situation is pretty peaceful now, it may not remain so as some countries are still fortifying their space arms.