White House Looks to Secure Space from Cyber Threats

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The Office of the National Cyber Director, the National Space Council and leaders from the private sector laid out next steps to digitally secure the space ecosystem.

The Office of the National Cyber Director, the National Space Council and the private sector are looking to boost space cybersecurity efforts, according to discussions at a forum hosted by ONCD on Tuesday.

According to the announcement, this gathering was part of a larger ONCD executive-level meeting series on cyber concerns for different sectors. The space-focused forum “was designed to facilitate robust discussion on this topic at the executive level and drive action to motivate critical cybersecurity investments across the space systems ecosystem,” the announcement said.

Government officials stressed the need to partner with the private sector to make sure the U.S. space ecosystem is resilient against cyber threats. Meanwhile, industry leaders discussed their views on existing space system cybersecurity practices, such as strategies to measure cyber risks, ways to address supply chain challenges, leveraging quantum resistant cryptographic algorithms and the need to improve secure open source libraries. 

Addressing recommendations to build on existing policy like Space Policy Directive-5 “Cybersecurity Principles for Space Systems” to reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities and mitigate threats, government officials noted the “need for tangible, comprehensive guidance for government and commercial space system developers and operators to measurably improve the cybersecurity of their space systems in the current threat environment.” Furthermore, government officials pointed to the new National Cybersecurity Strategy which outlines steps toward a more defensible and resilient digital and space ecosystem.

However, all highlighted the importance and timeliness of executive-level attention to investing in space system cybersecurity to ensure its resiliency.

Additionally, both government and private sector participants made several commitments to work towards improving space cybersecurity, specifically:

  • ONCD will put together workshops across regional hubs for the U.S. space industry in the next few months to understand commercial perspectives on existing space cybersecurity policy and current gaps that need specific guidance, as well as tangible next steps for the White House.
  • The Commerce Department will host a Space Cybersecurity Symposium in Washington, D.C. for a broad range of public and private space and cybersecurity stakeholders. 
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology will finalize its “Introduction to Cybersecurity for Commercial Satellite Operations” report this fiscal year to establish a method for applying the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to commercial space activities and provide cybersecurity outcomes, requirements and suggested controls.