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Cybersecurity Regime for Satellites and other Space Assets Urgently Required, Warn Researchers

"A radical review of cybersecurity in space is needed to avoid potentially catastrophic attacks," warn researchers at the International Security Department of UK-based thinktank, Chatham House. The report titled, "Space, the Final Frontier for Cybersecurity?," released today is based on a multi-year study led by David Livingstone and Dr. Patricia Lewis. From the report: "The vulnerability of satellites and other space assets to cyberattack is often overlooked in wider discussions of cyberthreats to critical national infrastructure. This is a significant failing, given society's substantial and ever increasing reliance on satellite technologies for navigation, communications, remote sensing, monitoring and the myriad associated applications. Vulnerabilities at the junction of space-based or space-derived capability with cybersecurity cause major national, regional and international security concerns, yet are going unaddressed, apart from in some 'high end' space-based systems. Analysing the intersection between cyber and space security is essential to understanding this non-traditional, evolving security threat." Further notes include:

Satellite services are potential targets for a range of cyberthreats, as space supports a growing and increasingly critical level of functionality within national infrastructure across the world, stimulating economic growth. One attack on a key node in the space sector could have the leveraged potential to affect critical national and international capabilities. This dependency on space is not unique to developed states; most countries will have similar vulnerabilities.

Cyberattacks on satellites can include jamming, spoofing and hacking attacks on communication networks; targeting control systems or mission packages; and attacks on the ground infrastructure such as satellite control centres. Possible cyberthreats against space-based systems include state-to-state and military actions; well-resourced organized criminal elements seeking financial gain; terrorist groups wishing to promote their causes, even up to the catastrophic level of cascading satellite collisions; and individual hackers who want to fanfare their skills.

There is currently no coherent global organization with regard to cybersecurity in space. Development of a flexible, multilateral space and cybersecurity regime is urgently required

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Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybersecurity, Telecom

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