“Space is an invaluable domain, but it is also increasingly crowded and particularly susceptible to a range of cyber vulnerabilities and threats.”
That’s not an overblown sci-fi movie strapline, but rather the chilling words of Gina Galasso, managing director of The Aerospace Corporation UK, a member of the international collaborative organisation, Space ISAC (the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center.) And she’s not wrong on either count.
In the UK alone, Galasso told The Register, the space sector contributes £5.7bn to the national economy each year and underpins a further £5.5bn in exports.
When it comes to threats, Galasso says some types are quickly detected – including orbital, kinetic and electronic attacks – but there are other less easily detected forms of cyber intrusion that “result in data manipulation or corruption, communications jamming or supply chain interruption”.
Mi NASA, su NASA?
Now add to the sense of foreboding with a report published by the NASA Office of Inspector General in May 2021 [PDF here] investigating how ready the organisation is from a cybersecurity perspective. This audit found that during the last four years, NASA had experienced more than 6,000 cyber incidents, and 1,785 in 2020 alone. With some 3,000 websites and 42,000 publicly accessible datasets, perhaps that’s not surprising.
“I know NASA suffers a large amount of nearly daily cyber attacks…