US Space Force Increases Cybersecurity Spending

General Saltzman, the Chief of Space Operations (CSO) for the USSF, is requesting a $30B budget for FY24, including $700M to “enhance the cyber defense of our critical networks associated with space operations.” He mentioned Russia’s use of cyber-attacks against Ukraine last year were a wake-up call to the service. Without specifying details of how the additional cyber defense money would be spent, Gen Saltzman did comment investments being made for not just software and hardware, but for training operators as well. Without trained operators to notice oddities in system behavior or possible indications and warnings for a cyber breach, hardware and software updates alone may not be enough, so this is a step in the right direction. Additionally, software updates may require much more than the $700M would allow to fully correct the misgivings of cybersecurity’s finite concerns in recent decades.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall was questioned by Congress to ask why the ground systems [relating to GPS ground control system OCX, which is years behind schedule] are the most troubled USSF programs to deliver.  Secretary Kendall noted the historical emphasis of the satellite payload over ground stations. Typically, the satellite design itself has been the primary focus of acquisition, with ground and cyber considerations left behind to fend more or less for themselves. Last year, the Space Force’s procurement chief announced that one of his nine tenants was to, “deliver ground before launch.” Shouldn’t that always have been the case? Hopefully, this $700M effort isn’t too little, too late, but the USSF is wise to have shifted its focus recently to shoring up ground systems defense efforts, particularly for cyber, as Russia continues its path of aggression.