Satellites to test-fly new cyber software

The Aerospace Corp. and TriSept Corp. are preparing separate flight tests of the software to alert satellite operators of anomalies found onboard as space systems face increasing cyberattacks.

The major goal of Aerospace Corp. is to add security without creating more risk or additional costs. Different from normal cyber hygiene, where organizations find out methods to stop cyber-attacks, Aerospace recommends a unique security approach called Defense in Depth. Defense in Depth is a type of security approach which deals with multiple layers of security – everything from securing supply chains and software development procedures to implementing intrusion-detection systems and instructing staff to be alert for online dangers. 

Software that detects illegal satellite access by continually monitoring and logging satellite telemetry, orders, and flight software configuration is an essential component of any defense-in-depth approach.

The novel method used in this case is that Aerospace engineers trained machine learning algorithms on expected behavior rather than creating the software to hunt for problematic commands. The software then alerts the user to anything unusual. The software could assist satellite operators in identifying the perpetrator of a hack in addition to alerting them to irregularities. The testing will be done for at least 1-2 years to demonstrate that it does not disturb the traditional flight control system.

In addition, TriSept Corporation is getting ready for an orbital launch of its TriSept Security Enhanced Layer later this year (TSEL). TriSept’s goal is to detect, report on and prevent anomalies. TriSept currently states that there are not many ways to ensure the mission software’s integrity.

The fundamental function of TSEL is to notify satellite operators of any operating system changes, even if the change was caused by hardware, as hardware can never be completely trusted.

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