But some cybersecurity experts say that this emerging industry is a huge target for hackers.The surge in commercial rocket launches and recently Ransomware attack, Cyber attacks on space systems may interrupt Internet access, interfere with global positioning satellite (GPS) systems, or even turn satellites into arms.
“If we are worried about people hacking into our navigation system, we should worry about this. If we care about keeping our grid online, we should worry about this,” Gregory Falco, Professor of Civil Engineering At Johns Hopkins University, tell Recode. “These space systems support all the other critical infrastructure we have, and we didn’t even realize it.”
The United States is currently not facing a large-scale proliferation of space cyber attacks, but satellites have Have been hacked in the pastFor example, two US satellites used by the United States Geological Survey and NASA to monitor climate and terrain were hacked Four times in 2007 and 2008. Senior security researcher Maher Yamout said that in recent years there has been an increase in intrusions and physical attacks on satellites, their connection systems, and the earth station that controls them, “probably due to advances in the technology used and the space race” on the Russian network Security company Kaspersky.
As early as April, the head of the Space Development Agency, a department of the Ministry of Defense, aimed to improve the military’s space capabilities, warn Cyber attacks on satellites are more threatening than missiles.Space Force is responsible Supervise the military’s satellites And GPS are also promoting Its cybersecurity investmentThe military is now preparing for the possibility of more cyber attacks in space, and the federal government is urging more and more commercial space companies Strengthen their cyber security, Especially when they want to launch more satellites.
SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and other Hundreds of satellites have been launched for sale Internet access around the world — And plan to send Thousands more Get into orbit.Those who will join Thousands of satellites We rely on everything from telephone service to weather reports to Agricultural researchAlthough most people associate satellites with navigation applications, satellites also transmit key timing data used to run the grid and bank transactions. According to Travis Lanster, Comspoc, a space situational awareness startup.
We are increasingly relying on this technology, which makes the threat of hacker attacks particularly worrying. Hackers can try to access the satellite by targeting the company’s ground system. Once inside, the attacker can manipulate communication or control, download unwanted software, and even tell the satellite to change its course. Ian Boyd, Director of the National Security Initiative Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“This is the same situation where people enter your computer system and perform poorly,” Boyd told Recode. He added that hackers may also try to flood satellites with false signals or pretend to be satellite communications-a process called deception-to confuse vehicles on the surface of the earth.
These cyber attacks on space systems are destructive, but their impact can be catastrophic. For example, in 2014, U.S. officials blamed China for cyberattacks, forcing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cut off public channels Image data from a satellite network used for weather forecasting.Russia has Reportedly used GPS spoofing to confuse the actual location of the ship. According to William Akoto, in the future, the worst-case scenario may involve hackers tricking satellites into other space infrastructures. Professor of International Politics At Fordham University, research on cyber conflicts.
Matthew Scholl, head of the computer security department at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Information Technology Laboratory, explained: “You can’t just walk to the server room and patch things on the tracks.”
In response to the imminent threat of cyberattacks on space systems, the U.S. military moved earlier this year More than 2,000 cyber security experts arrive Newly formed space forceAt the same time, the Air Force has started Hold a competition Encourage hackers to break into the satellite, hoping to learn more about potential vulnerabilities. But cybersecurity experts warn that the private aerospace industry is not transparent in how it manages security threats.
“From a business perspective, we have to hope that they are doing something,” said Falco, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. “But most commercial companies working on satellite systems give zero details about any details they have about the security of their space systems.”
Some of these companies are currently hiring cyber security professionals.For example, Blue Origin has been looking for information systems security officers to find vulnerabilities in the company’s systems, while SpaceX is looking for Information Security Assurance Analyst Investigate the physical and cyber security of the company’s supply chain.
None of the companies Recode contacted — Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, OneWeb, and SpaceX — did not respond to requests for comment on their cybersecurity status.
But as commercial aerospace companies try to staff their security teams, the federal government is also stepping in to help.
Last year, then President Donald Trump signed an executive order Recommendation principle Cybersecurity and space systems encourage private companies Plan ahead For example, strengthen the protection of rocket and satellite control systems, and deploy anti-virus software to protect their ground stations. NIST has developed Cybersecurity resources for commercial space operations, including satellites.
In June, Rep. Ted Lieu and Ken Calvert introduced legislation to classify space as Critical infrastructure Promote cooperation between private aerospace companies and the government on cybersecurity issues. The Federal Aviation Administration also helped create the Space Information Sharing Analysis Center (Space ISAC), which works with companies across the aerospace industry to share information about potential threats and attacks to their cybersecurity.
“Globally distributed infrastructure means that there is a very broad attack surface,” Space ISAC executive director Erin Miller told Recode. “We need to build and design cyber security capabilities in each of our space systems.”
For now, this means that ensuring national security and responding to the cyber security challenges of the emerging aerospace industry are one thing.After all, there are more and more attacks on various private companies, whether they are Oil pipeline Either Meat distributor, Which makes it clear that when the company does not protect itself from hacker attacks, the American public can feel the consequences. As more and more technologies that power our daily lives enter space, the country should also pay more attention to cyber security.