Cyber attacks on space systems are escalating—just as space technology is becoming increasingly critical for national security, defense, and our way of life. Defense and intelligence agencies can accelerate cybersecurity with space IT solutions combining open systems architecture, model-based systems engineering (MBSE), and the power of a proactive approach.
Threats to Space Systems
The U.S. government has identified some of the most critical threats to space systems:
- Rival nations have a sophisticated knowledge of satellite command and control and space distribution networks.
- Many active space systems were designed before space was considered a contested domain.
- More and more systems are connected to space assets, increasing the attack surface.
- Commercial space ventures create more players and complexity.
Space Policy Directive-5 mandates cyber protections for space systems, supporting the national security goal of maintaining U.S. leadership and freedom of action in space.
Operational Technology Meets IT
The White House’s executive order on improving cybersecurity for IT and operational technology (OT) underscores a critical aspect of space systems: They’re a hybrid of IT and OT.
“These systems are at the intersection of the cyber and physical worlds,” says Kevin Coggins, vice president and head of Booz Allen’s positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) business. “You must protect the threat surface of the physical systems as well as their network connections.”