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The space sector is unique in the field of cybersecurity.

It is an industry where civil, commercial and military applications seamlessly coexist, creating a haphazard situation for cybersecurity experts and telecommunication engineers.

Over several years there has been substantial interest in the issues of cybersecurity and space security but the general consensus is that far too little attention has been paid to the combination of the two security problems.

This was in large part the reasoning behind the return of the DoD’s Department of Space Command in 2018.

The raw reality is this: 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. 

Space systems are vulnerable for many reasons, such as many space systems are old, created before cybersecurity became a top policy priority. They also have vulnerabilities like hardcoded credentials making access by sophisticated actors fairly easy.

A report by the Center for Space Strategy and Policy found that here are several segments of space infrastructure that need to be hardened against cyber-attack. For example, spacecraft could be vulnerable to 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 could be used to infect systems on the ground and spacecraft could be spoofed (disguising communication from an untrusted source as a trusted one) or suffer from replay (interrupting or delaying communication by malicious actors). 

Want to learn more? Tonex offers several courses in Space Operations and Cybersecurity that focus on priorities to assist space systems and combat readiness. Our training programs, courses, seminars and certifications provide space technologies and operational capabilities, operational missions of space lift, satellite communications, EO-IR sensor capabilities, AI and sensor fusion, missile warning and space control.

Tonex Space Operations and Cybersecurity courses:

Space Systems Engineering Fundamentals (2 days)

Certified Space Security Specialist Professional (5 days)

Fundamentals of Positioning, Navigation and Timing (2 days)

Space Mission Systems Engineering Training (2 days)

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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