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US Space Force Cybersecurity Specialists Turn Attention to Defending Satellites

Satellite cybersecurity

US Space Force Cybersecurity Specialists Turn Attention to Defending Satellites

The chief of the Space Operations Command revealed that the U.S. Space Force has commenced efforts to strengthen its cyber defenses amid a proliferation of threats. Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting warned that assaults on U.S. satellite networks are unlikely to come from weapons in space but rather from hackers working on the ground, SpaceNews reported Wednesday.

Whiting called cyberspace the “soft underbelly of America’s global space networks.” To address this reality, he said that SOC’s cybersecurity specialists have begun to pivot from protecting desktop computers at USSF bases to the more demanding role of defending military satellite networks.

The general stressed, however, that ensuring network security inside bases will not be put on the backburner as more Space Force guardians turn to defend satellite assets. He explained that leadership is now mulling the option of delegating more of this function to commercial service providers. 

Whiting revealed that the pivot to protecting space assets is most apparent at the Buckley Space Force Base in Colorado, where guardians work to shore up the defenses of GPS and early warning satellites. He explained that many of these satellites were designed and manufactured at a time before cyberattacks were considered serious threats.

The SOC’s top officer said that while sophisticated adversaries such as Russia and China have demonstrated abilities to attack American satellites from space, they would most likely prefer to do this discreetly from the ground. He added that other adversaries like North Korea and Iran may not possess the ability to launch space assaults but have hackers capable of disrupting the satellite network.

It was noted that during the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, suspected hackers working for Moscow successfully knocked out satellite communications in the area, slowing down the response of defenders. 

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Category: Cybersecurity