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We Have to Start Thinking About Cybersecurity in Space

By Help Net Security

September 23, 2016

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U.K.-based researchers are studying the cybersecurity of space-related technologies.

"An insecure environment in space will hinder economic development and increase risks to societies, particularly in crucial sectors such as communications, transport, energy, financial transactions, agriculture, food and other resources management, environmental and weather monitoring, and defense," according to Chatham House researchers David Livingstone and Patricia Lewis. They say space-related cybersecurity gaps and weaknesses need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Cybersecurity in space includes satellites, rockets, space-based systems and vehicles, space stations, and ground stations, as well as the associated networks and data centers, all of which the researchers warn could be targeted by hackers.

"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," according to the researchers.  

The researchers suggest an international multi-stakeholder space security organization would provide the best opportunity for developing a sectoral response to match the range of threats. However, such an effort should avoid basing policies on technology alone.

"An effective regime requires a comprehensive technological response that is integrated into a wider circle of knowledge, understanding, and collaboration," according to the researchers.

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