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Cybersecurity is Top Priority for US Space Force, Official Says

Space asset cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is Top Priority for US Space Force, Official Says

The U.S. Space Force is prioritizing the protection of on-orbit assets from cyberattacks, a top official said. Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, the first commander of the Space Operations Command, called cyber the “soft underbelly” of the nascent military service.

Whiting said that the global nature of the Space Force’s network infrastructure gives it a massive attack surface. He added that cyberattacks pose a threat to systems critical for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, communications, positioning, navigation and timing, FedScoop reported Monday.

“That’s our first priority is to prepare those combat-ready, ISR-led, cybersecure space and combat support forces,” Whiting said at a Mitchell Institute event.

He added that while Russia and China have tested weapons that could physically destroy U.S. assets in space, adversaries will still prefer to attack through cyberspace.

The commander’s statements align with the Defense Intelligence Agency’s 2022 report on space security, which states that China would likely rely on cyberattacks in the early stages of a conflict.

DIA added that cyber capabilities are part of Russia’s warfighting doctrine and that its military has been prioritizing cyber development since at least 2010.

In a past interview with SpaceNews, Whiting said that SpOC has been transitioning its cybersecurity specialists from desktop security roles to the more demanding mission of protecting military satellites.

He stressed that the pivot does not mean that network security inside bases will be relaxed. Instead, Space Force leaders are considering delegating more of the role to commercial services providers, Whiting told SpaceNews.

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Category: Cybersecurity