State, industry representatives express minor Satellite cybersecurity issues.

Defense and intelligence organizations “seek to build on the capabilities of small satellites and networks,” said Fred Kennedy, former chief of the Space Development Agency Pentagon, on February 5. However, the “cybersecurity and data transparency” worries leaders both secret and unclassified space projects.

Government groups historically own and operate the critical functioning satellites and systems, such as those of missile defence. Since they built the networks and managed them with cyber safety in mind, they trusted outsiders may not access the networks, says Kennedy.

“The concern is that if they turn the keys over to a private company, they will not influence it again,” explained Kennedy, who is currently the Vice President for future launch missions of Astra Space Startup. Communications associated with nuclear weapon detection isn’t the type of operation state agencies  “feel at ease with anybody carrying out,” he added.

There has been “a lot of serious debate” inside state agencies on this subject, said Kennedy. “I would say that the result so far is firmly on the section of being scared of handing over all of this to any business entity. This decision, though, is a mistake, I believe, because this community is as interested in and potentially more capable of enforcing data integrity and cyber safety as the Defense Department, and is probably more capable of putting it into the task. The problem might be to persuade defence and intelligence officials that this is a real mission. 

During his February 4 keynote address, Gen. John “JT” Thompson, Commander Air Force Space and Missile Systems (SMC), sounded a bit more hopeful.

Thompson says that the Air Force looks forward to working with small firms and businesses that have historically not been government contractors. This decision is to ensure their networks “perhaps not cyber evidence, as it doesn’t convince me, but as cyber safe, as is practicable.” “The cyber hazard is evolving more so we ought to build frameworks which can develop with that risk to sustain the cybersecurity by mitigation or significant improvements.”

“Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation guidelines dozens of pages,” are not a solution to the problem,” Thompson stated. He noted that the “helping of people who work daily for the banking sector, the Administration of Social Security and the Internal Revenue Service” would be a more successful solution. Let’s collaborate with these companies to make sure we develop weapon systems and a cyber resilience architecture to cope with the growing threat.