Today, we will be discussing space security and the ways to protect space assets from cyber-attacks.
We’ll also explain:
- Why certain systems are vulnerable
- What the main threats to space infrastructure are
- The possibility for you to travel in space
- How to prevent terrorism cyber-attacks
Let’s dive right in!
Why are space systems vulnerable to cyber-attacks?
Much of the world’s infrastructure depends on space assets. Essential systems such as telecommunications, financial services, air transport, and weather monitoring need satellites, ground stations, and data transfer to function properly.
This dependence leads to several cyber threats:
- Many space systems were created when cybersecurity wasn’t a priority. Those old systems have vulnerabilities like hardcoded credentials — used by ships, planes, and the military — which cybercriminals can access easily.
- Spaceflight is slowly transforming from a public endeavor to a commercial industry. There are more commercial providers that offer a variety of services in space –which means more targets for cyber-attacks.
- The number of self-trained or state-supported hackers is increasing, and access to computer technologies is cheaper.
Satellite Security Threats
With the rise in innovative processes and spaceship technology, electronic and cyber threats are spreading.
The Aerospace Corporation points out that the main threats to space infrastructure are:
- transmission of false data from an untrusted source
- giving bad instructions to manipulate controls (spoofing)
- interruption or delay in communication (jamming)
For example, take GPS. An attacker can find a way to command and control the uplink signal to a satellite. That way, he can spoof the downlink from a satellite and inject false data into a target’s communications systems.
- Malware can be used to infect ground-based systems, such as satellite control centers
Space Travel and Cybersecurity
Nowadays, modern technology is making it possible for international organizations and even individuals to travel into space. That raises the question of cybersecurity and regulation of the activities of private entities in space.
In August 2020, NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission made it clear that space exploration is no longer a restricted domain. Besides flying astronauts into space, SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft will also carry private passengers to Earth’s orbit, as well as the International Space Station.
And the more spacecrafts connect with ground-based assets, the larger the attack surface will get in the future.
Space and International Security
Space cyber-attacks could interfere with the global economy and international security unless they’re prevented.
There are some space cybersecurity standards and regulations that already exist, including the Committee on National Security Systems’ information assurance standards for commercial satellites that carry classified or sensitive data.
The Trump Administration also released the Space Policy Directive 5 to offer the US Government’s comprehensive space cybersecurity policy principles to the world.
Future Cyber Security Threats
When dealing with future space-based cyberthreats we need creative and innovative solutions.
The Future of Space Warfare
In the future, cyber warfare capabilities could become a larger challenge for several reasons.
Cyber warfare technologies are becoming an option for space warfare because they are getting cheap and easily accessible. Also, they can be developed faster than anti-satellite weapons.
An attack on satellites could have consequences of a much larger scale and lead to serious conflicts among nations that possess assets in space.
Bill Malik, VP of Infrastructure Strategies at Trend Micro, presented some ways of preventing cyberterrorism:
- To prevent jamming, satellite operators should have their communications repeatedly “hop” between frequencies
- Increase use of GPS authentication, for ground-based systems that depend on satellite communication
- Secure the information and data sent and received from satellites
How Can the US Prevent Cyber Attacks?
The US can help prevent cyberterrorism with:
- A regulatory approach— setting up industry-led standards for collaboration across sectors that will enable counter-terror organization to share information and assess risks much better
- International cooperation and partnership with former and new allies —to create sustainable norm frameworks for dealing with cyberterrorism in space
NASA Space Technology Roadmap 2020
NASA’s Integrated Space Technology Roadmap includes technology strategies and a wide range of pathways to advance the nation’s capabilities in space.
It includes the following 14 drafts of Space Technology Area Roadmaps:
- Launch Propulsion Systems
- In-Space Propulsion Technologies
- Space Power and Energy Storage
- Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems
- Communication and Navigation
- Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
- Human Exploration Destination Systems
- Science Instruments, Observatories and Sensor Systems
- Entry, Descent and Landing Systems
- Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology and Processing
- Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing
- Ground and Launch Systems Processing
- Thermal Management Systems
This may be just the start. But if you want to learn more about this topic, please continue to check out our blogs.
Closer to Earth, cybersecurity is a problem, as well. That’s why it’s important to use services that can prevent attacks, make your business less vulnerable, and protect your data and assets 24/7.
We can help you with that!
Demakis Technologies offers a full cybersecurity service that protects your data and other vital resources.
Please contact us to find out more about this service, and one of our professional engineers will be glad to help answer any questions you may have.