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Space cybersecurity is being called the new frontier that needs immediate protection.

The fact is, all the hardware in space now and in the years to come make for a pretty large potential attack surface, which is connected directly to the internet.

Like any other increasingly digitized critical infrastructure, satellites and other space-based assets are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This is not a good position to be in security-wise because much of the world’s critical infrastructure is heavily dependent on space, specifically space-based assets, for its daily functioning.

Essential systems – such as communications, air transport, maritime trade, financial services, weather monitoring and defense – all rely heavily on space infrastructure, including satellites, ground stations and data links at the national, regional and international level.

 This dependence poses a serious, and yet frequently underrecognized, security dilemma – especially cyber threats – for critical infrastructure providers and policymakers alike. 

These cyber vulnerabilities pose serious risks not just for space-based assets themselves but also for ground-based critical infrastructure. Most cybersecurity professionals believe that these threats could interfere with global economic development and, by extension, international security.

Vulnerabilities to space systems and infrastructure vary across a range of potential attack surfaces. Some experts in this field have grouped potential space cyber-attacks into four main areas of concern:

  • Command Intrusions — Giving bad instructions to destroy or manipulate basic controls
  • Payload Control and Denial of Service –Sending too much traffic to overload systems
  • Malware –Malware could be used to infect systems on the ground (like satellite control centers) and for users
  • Links Could Be Spoofed –Disguising communication from an untrusted source as a trusted one

Cybersecurity professionals are worried about how our inability to deter interferences could have large-scale and catastrophic effects. They often use GPS as an example of how the precision of this technology is taken for granted. Yet, all it would take is the production of a relatively inexpensive spoofer, and an attacker could be able to command and control the uplink signal to a satellite.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Space Cybersecurity courses where participants learn about space systems and how they are now met with a unique confluence of cybersecurity risks that complicates the sector’s remediation capabilities.

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