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US strives to address space cyber challenge

9th June 2021 - 16:19 GMT | by David Walsh in Washington DC

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Cyber is the primary weapon of choice against US and allied space infrastructure. (Photo: NASA Ames/Wendy Strezel)

Securing space assets from direct attack or hacking is an ever more important task — but is it impossible?

In April, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released its annual ‘Space Threat Assessment’ that described four main vectors of attack: Kinetic Physical (direct anti-satellite attacks), Non-Kinetic Physical (use of directed-energy weapons or high-altitude nuclear detonation); Electronic (jamming and spoofing); and Cyber (described as data intercept or monitoring, data corruption or seizure of control).

Of these, cyber is the primary weapon of choice against US and allied space infrastructure. Satellites are reportedly susceptible to command intrusions with bad instructions to destroy or manipulate basic controls, or to payload control and denial-of-service attacks in which systems are overloaded with …

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