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Space security has never been more crucial as we enter what’s being called the New Space Era. 

New Space refers to record global involvement in space activities led by private space efforts. New Space, more than ever, is thought of less as a location and more as an area of resources and opportunities. 

Consequently, this development in technologies and the fast growth of New Space projects make the space attack surface larger and increases the threat risks in terms of cyber-attacks. In fact, as space technology advances, cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated and affecting several components of the space system’s architecture.

One major area of concern for space security specialists is security measures needed to protect ground stations and terminals. 

Most cyber-attacks against the ground segment exploit web vulnerabilities to allow attackers to lure ground station personnel into downloading malware or Trojan horses to ground station computers.

Breaking into the ground station network gives the attacker access to the satellite itself. Once inside the ground station network, attackers can gain access to the satellite and perform denial of service (DoS) attacks, as well as hijack industrial control systems (ICS) to control and damage the satellites.

A report published by the NASA Office of Inspector General revealed that threat actors breached the agency’s network and stole approximately 500 megabytes of data related to Mars missions.

The point of entry was a Raspberry Pi device that was connected to the IT network of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) without authorization or going through the proper security review.

Ground segment systems are facing many cyber threats and various attack vectors that can be leveraged for compromising these systems.

The satellite industry is continuously adjusting to ensure that satellites can be flexible to meet future changing market demands such as 5G backhaul and Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, satellite ground technology is evolving with more innovation and scalability as it looks to leverage virtualization, orchestration, and network slicing to support 5G connectivity.

However, these adjustments often open up new vulnerabilities to potential threats. This danger can be reduced if Earth ground station equipment is secure and can operate as a firewall to ensure data is authorized before it is sent up to the constellations.

Additionally, to prevent unauthorized access to the satellite, space security specialists believe network security should be the first consideration during the design stage before deployment. It is necessary to maintain the reliability and integrity of the network as well as protect a company’s reputation, avoiding potentially significant damage and financial loss in the future. 

Bottom line: Space security specialist professionals are needed more than ever to help solve these crucial, multiple space security issues. 

Want to know more? Tonex offers Certified Space Security Specialist Professional (CSSSP) training, a 5-day course that is ideal for space and security practitioners, analysts, engineers, managers and executives interested in proving their knowledge across space security practices and principles.

Our Space Operations and Cybersecurity courses also include: 

Fundamentals of Positioning, Navigation and Timing | PNT Training (2 days)

Space Mission Systems Engineering Training (2 days)

Space Systems Engineering Fundamentals (2 days) 

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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