Germany Offers Model for Space-Industry Cybersecurity Standards

The German satellite security guidelines serve as a useful example for more general cyber requirements for the entire space industry as it develops and adopts commercial software. The German agency wants to establish it as the foundation for European or global cybersecurity standards for the space industry.

I found this article interesting because Satellites are still vulnerable. The vulnerability of satellites was demonstrated by the recent cyberattack on Viasat Inc. on February 24, the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The attack disrupted remote monitoring systems for German wind farms as well as internet connectivity for thousands of Europeans.

According to space academics and satellite firms, it is essential to have uniform standards because space operations frequently involve suppliers and experts from different nations. The guidelines include minimal cyber precautions to help satellite enterprises ensure their supply chains handle specific vulnerabilities. Businesses would benefit from having similar language to use with partners and suppliers in foreign nations. The German standards also include precautions for protecting satellites during various stages, including transport, testing, and orbital deployment.

Through the non-profit Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, government space agencies from the U.S., Japan, China, Canada, Germany, and Italy debate cybersecurity. In the event that post-quantum computers develop that can defeat the degree of encryption used today, the group has examined ways to safeguard satellites that could remain in orbit for around ten years. The European Space Agency, which is not a part of the EU and comprises non-EU nations like Switzerland and Norway, is a further member of the committee. In addition to investigating potential post-quantum encryption technologies, the European agency is keeping an eye on a global competition being sponsored by the American National Institute of Standards and Technology to find secure cryptographic algorithms. This research is still in its early stages but the agency is positive about its future of it.

Commercial space services, goods, and infrastructure are the main drivers of the world space economy. Among other things, satellites offer navigation services, television broadcasts, internet access, and scientific data. No one country can accomplish this on its own since everything is so intertwined in space. After a satellite is launched, organizations want instructions for patching, upgrading, and changing functionality. There are hazards when releasing system and security updates, especially for satellites that stay in orbit for a long time.

Experts anticipate that additional commercial technology will become available in the upcoming years, maybe utilizing more readily available internet-connected parts. That increases the dangers of cyberattacks since hackers may employ ransomware to target a huge system of satellites, posing a risk to the system as a whole.

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