Humanity has perpetually aimed for the heavens. Humans, from the invention of the wheel to the invention of the automobile, have always been on the cutting edge of innovation. The space industry is only one of the cutting-edge, quickly expanding fields that relies on human ingenuity and creativity. Opportunities in Space Cybersecurity are growing as the space industry becomes increasingly privatized. The global space economy is expected to increase by 41% over the next five years, hitting a new high of US$ 546 billion in 2022.
This dramatic growth is the result of improved technology, more public and private sector space exploration, and government funding. The promise of space in the digital age has been dramatically altered by the widespread interest in space projects and technology. To make matters worse, space now has to contend with the additional difficulty of space cybersecurity on top of everything else it has to undergo.
Recent Cybersecurity Scenario in Space
You might not think much about space in your day-to-day life, but most of the systems we rely on are orbiting the Earth. Space technology is essential for international communication and development in fields as diverse as telecommunications, navigation, the internet, and meteorology. Everyone on Earth might be severely impacted by a cyberattack on space infrastructure.
Safe and reliable channels of communication, precise navigation, and command are all dependent on a solid foundation of cyber security for space exploration. Space exploration is already a high-stakes endeavor that must be conducted with absolute reliability to protect the lives of astronauts, technicians, and everyone else involved. This highlights the importance of taking cybersecurity measures in outer space.
Hacking into satellites and other spacecraft is a major concern for space cybersecurity. Hackers can quickly take over critical infrastructure, tamper with controls, and steal sensitive information. Disrupting or slowing the transmission of data from satellites is a common goal of those who employ jamming and spoofing techniques. Jamming and other forms of cyberattack on the Starlink SpaceX terminal were used during the conflict in Ukraine. Military authorities have described these methods as standard issue.
As space systems become “increasingly interconnected and computationally complex,” they become more vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a study from the University of Oxford. However, the vast majority of satellites and equipment were constructed long before cyber security became a global priority. That makes them extremely complicated, but also extremely open to cyber attacks.
Space cybersecurity was tested when two of the world’s largest telescopes were penetrated.
The National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) of the National Science Foundation revealed on August 1 that the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and the Gemini South Telescope in Chile had been shut down due to a cyberattack. The NCSC had warned American space corporations and research organizations about the danger of cyberattacks and espionage just days before these attacks began.
The staff at Cerro Tololo in Chile is still perplexed as to how the attacks on smaller telescopes occurred. NOIRLab has released a statement saying that the cleanup of their damaged buildings and telescopes is proceeding. Every second that cyber attacks halt normal operations is costly for the scientific community, both monetarily and in terms of the information lost.
Cyberattacks on the Space Industry, the FBI and the Air Force Warn
To prevent foreign intelligence agencies from gathering information about American space capabilities or innovative technologies, the FBI, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations issued a bulletin in August. Foreign intelligence organizations, according to the agencies, “recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the US economy and national security — including the growing dependence of critical infrastructure on space-based assets.” They continue by saying that the United States’ cutting-edge space industry poses a threat but also presents an opportunity to gain access to lifesaving knowledge and resources.
The advice went on to say that critical information about satellite payloads may be collected in such an attack, and that this could disrupt and impair US satellite communications, remote sensing, and imaging capabilities, as well as target American commercial space assets during international wars. The advice predicts that by 2025, the global space economy would be worth more than $1 trillion. The agencies issued a warning that space infrastructure is “fundamental to every aspect of our society, including emergency services, energy, financial services, telecommunications, transportation, food, and agriculture.”
Cybersecurity in Space: What Are the Obstacles?
As was previously mentioned, the utilization of antiquated systems has made cybersecurity in space difficult. Due to insufficient resources, infrastructure, and expertise, most countries have yet to deploy comprehensive cybersecurity protections in space initiatives. The space industry is a growing target for cybercriminals due to its complexity, interconnectedness, and rapid expansion.
Constraints on available resources and data transfer speeds
Most nations are struggling to keep up in the space race without sufficient cash and access to the internet. Because of this scarcity, security measures may be weak or nonexistent.
Flaws in Satellite Technology and Earth-Based Infrastructure
There are several possible threats to space and ground infrastructure due to the interconnected nature of space, ground, linkages, and users. As interest from private and commercial groups grows, cybercriminals now have a broader target. Some potential weak spots in the current state of cyberspace protection are:
- Compromise in software-defined radio.
- Insider attacks.
- Interacting with satellites through hacking ground systems.
- Implanting harmful code during hardware and software development.
- Command link injections, replay assaults, and electronic attacks like jamming and spoofing are all forms of communications hacking that can be used against TT&C systems.
- Threats in the software.
Cyberattacks on Space Missions: A Possible Threat
Malware installations, ransomware assaults, and breaches of data or systems are all possible outcomes of cyber attacks on space infrastructure. Communications, supply chains, national security, internet access, and global economy are all vulnerable to these types of attacks. Cyberattacks on space missions can potentially result in the harm or death of astronauts, the loss of valuable equipment, and the suspension of exploration efforts.
Where Do We Find Cybersecurity Opportunities in Space?
As the competition in space heats up and countries develop cutting-edge technologies to keep up, cybersecurity for outer space is emerging as a profitable new industry. To meet the growing need for cyber protections for space technology, smaller companies should jump at this chance. Forbes has outlined some strategies for smaller businesses to increase their visibility in this burgeoning market:
- Create new approaches to cyber defense in outer space.
- Keep up with the latest news and legislation affecting your field.
- Gain prominence as a thinking leader.
- Work along with academic organizations.
- Join relevant organizations and events in your field.
- Change up what you’re able to provide.
- Establish useful partnerships.
Space Mission Cybersecurity Precautions
Hardcoded credentials, which are utilized by ships, planes, and the military and can be easily accessible by hackers, pose a threat to space-based systems. Because of this, improved cybersecurity measures to ensure the secure transmission of data are essential for space missions. The following are examples of possible methods used to ensure network security:
Encryption and other methods for safe communication One of the most important aspects of cyber security in space is ensuring the safety of communications between Earth and orbiting outposts. Encryption techniques provide a secure channel of communication, which is critical for protecting people, information, and equipment.
Authentication and Access Control Mechanisms: Keeping proper access controls in place guarantees that only approved users can access mission-critical systems. The safety of the space system can be greatly improved by adopting a policy of complete lack of confidence.
Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems: The existing infrastructure must detect, isolate, and neutralize cyber attacks. Active intrusion detection and threat intelligence are vital for stopping cyberattacks in their tracks on space missions.
Protecting and encrypting data is essential because hackers may attempt to steal sensitive information from satellites or send out erroneous data. Encrypting information makes transmissions safe from eavesdropping, modification, or corruption.
Because of the progress of modern times, space technology has advanced to new heights. Satellites have evolved beyond their original function of signal amplification and now play a crucial role in global communication. These ground-breaking blueprints have unleashed a floodgate of possibilities for designers, engineers, and creative thinkers. If we take care, the world we build today can be a safe haven for generations to come.
Managex is an industry-leading cybersecurity and cloud services provider that is committed to bringing us all a safer, more progressive, and more prosperous tomorrow. Visit www.managex.ae to find out more about Managex’s cloud computing and cyber security solutions.