Foreign intelligence agencies warn US space organizations of cyber threats

On Friday, the FBI, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations published an advisory warning that unnamed, foreign intelligence entities see U.S. space-related innovations and assets as potential threats as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies, and they will inevitably target the private space sector to steal sensitive data from satellite payloads and disrupt US satellite capabilities.

“Foreign intelligence entities recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the U.S. economy and national security, including the growing dependence of critical infrastructure on space-based assets,” the agencies said.

The advisory noted that threat actors are seeking to degrade the country’s ability to provide critical services during emergencies and times of conflict by identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in U.S. commercial space infrastructure. Another key concern highlighted is that foreign intelligence agencies are looking to siphon intellectual property and proprietary data from space firms to benefit their own national security programs.

The advisory also said the U.S. financial sector estimates that the global space economy is projected to more than double to more than $1 trillion by 2030 from 2021.

Emily Phelps, Director, Cyware had this to say:  

“The importance of securing our critical infrastructure – including U.S. space infrastructure –cannot be overstated. It’s not just securing technology – it’s securing our way of life and the investments in our future. It requires a combination of policy-driven, technological, and human-centered strategies. We will need public-private collaborations, regulatory oversight, advanced encryption and collaborative intelligence, as well as a broad and robust cybersecurity culture.  

“Just as astronauts must prepare for space travel, we must fortify our defenses against threat actors who seek to disrupt our public and private space programs.”

At this point, one should assume that everything is fair game when it comes to a cyberattack. Thus everything must be secured so that they don’t become a headline when threat actors come calling.

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