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White House makes moves to secure space cyber security

The US has opened discussions into the importance of securing the cyber security of space and the industry.

The White House held a forum with private industry leaders and government stakeholders, outlining plans to bolster cyber security for the US industry.

user icon Daniel Croft
Fri, 31 Mar 2023
White House makes moves to secure space cyber security
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“Public and private sector space actors — including stakeholders representing the diversity of the space ecosystem — must work together to proactively address cyber security challenges,” it said.

The roundtable discussion was hosted by National Space Council executive secretary Chirag Parikh and acting national cyber director Kemba Walden, who outlined three main directives for boosting space cyber security.

First, the Office of the National Cyber Director will host workshops for US industry leaders to gain perspectives on current policy and identify gaps that require “more specific guidance”.

In addition, the Department of Commerce will hold a space cyber security symposium with public and private industry experts, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will release a report titled “Introduction to Cybersecurity for Commercial Satellite Operations”.

The report will outline the best method of utilising the NIST cyber security framework and applying it to commercial space operations.

In conjunction with the roundtable, the US Space Force has announced that it wants to increase its cyber security spend for satellite ground systems to combat the growing threat of cyber attacks on space infrastructure and the industry.

The Space Force requested a $30 billion budget for 2024, with $700 million, which General B. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations, said will “enhance the cyber defence of our critical networks associated with space operations”.

The increased attention on space and its cyber security comes over a year after the war in Ukraine began, which has been classed by the Atlantic Council as the “first full-scale cyber war”.

The war has seen both sides make use of cyber attacks in conjunction with kinetic attacks, and with state-led attacks being launched on commercial satellites, the significance of space cyber security is at an all-time high.

As Gartner vice-president analyst Katell Thielemann pointed out: “Space-based communications and navigation systems underpin all our modern society, and the current race to deploy even more satellite constellations will only make them more critical.”

The US has tied Russia to a number of attacks on commercial satellites prior to its invasion of Ukraine, which led to internet outages preventing communication and the spread of information.

“There’s no question that space is going to be central to effective operations in the future,” added Saltzman.

“Russia’s electronic and cyber attacks in the early days of the invasion were a wake-up call.”

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