Space Wars Will Be Waged With Hacks, Not Lasers — “Space and Cyberspace are Becoming Fields of Warfare Equivalent to Land, Sea and Air”

 

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“Space systems are symbols of national power and this makes them appealing targets,” said Deganit Paikowsky, a space policy researcher at Tel Aviv University.. “Harmful activity is to be expected in the intersection between cyber and space.”


"In September 2014, hackers from China broke into the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) network in an attempt to disrupt data related to disaster planning, aviation, and much more coming from U.S. satellites," wrote Paikowsky and Gil Baram in Foreign Affairs. "This breach was the latest in a series of cyberattacks on space systems, exposing the Achilles’ heel of such technology: the vulnerability of its computers and the information it creates and transmits. Cyberattacks, which are on the rise in every industry, pose particularly significant threats to space systems as they are used so ubiquitously in corporate and military operations, making them increasingly attractive targets for hackers."

 

“Space and cyberspace are gradually becoming fields of warfare very much equivalent to land, sea and air,” said Paikowsky. “We're talking about new domains of conducting war in the information age. If you have space dominance, you can fight more efficiently on and off the battlefield.”

 

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Space wars of the future, adds Paikowsky, will be waged in cyberspace, which will be used to exploit and compromise internet connected space technology to avoid kinetic warfare generates massive orbiting debris field and makes space unusable for everybody—including the aggressor.

“Not using kinetic attacks is a question of sustainability and safety of the space environment,” said Paikowsky. “Cyber attacks are becoming much more likely to be used against space systems if a country still wants to be considered a responsible player.”

On September 30th, reported motherboard.com, "a number of professionals in the aerospace industry received a mundane email containing a PDF ostensibly about the future of Russian aerospace programs, but which actually harbored a ‘Komplex’ trojan, believed to be sent by the notorious Sofacy Group, a cyberespionage collective that could choose to send commands to be executed on the infected computers.

The Komplex trojan works by connecting the user’s computer to a remote command and control server, a centralized computer that issues commands to a botnet.

To address the growing vulnerability of space systems, a panel of security experts convened at the International Astronautical Congress last Friday to discuss cyber-vulnerabilities particular to the space sector and how to protect it against hacking.

The US military was able to put its space technology to the test during the first Gulf War, where reliance on space systems for intelligence and weapons guidence turned out to be a proving ground for the military use of GPS space technologies.

Today, US predator missiles, coordinate drone strikes, and allow officers to remotely surveil an area from dozens of miles uup via some 250,000 GPS-dependent systems.

China, Russia, and other spacefaring nations have also seen the strategic value of space systems, threating the United States’ dominance in space, which in turn assures dominance on terrestrial battlefields.

The threat to civil space tech has led space agencies to begin ramping up their internal cybersecurity divisions to deal with the growing threat of political or military space hacking.

A prime example is the European Space Agency’s development of a cybersecurity range in Redu, a small village in Luxembourg. Here the ESA will train employees how to recognize and deal with cyberattacks in realistic simulations. The program was launched in February and will be ready to begin training sessions later this month

The Daily Galaxy via Foreign Affairs and motherboard.vice.com

Image credit: gettyimages.com

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