June 18, 2024


Technology can't be beat

The need for cyber security in space


In 1961, Australia opened its ‘glittering giant’ – a state of the art radio telescope located in the middle of a wheat discipline. At the time, it was just one of the most potent telescopes in the earth, much better equipped, so the papers boasted, to observe house probes than any other instrument in the world. At the time it was explained that “when any country makes an attempt to ship a house motor vehicle to the moon or just one of the planets, it is most likely to check with for Australia’s support.”1

Without a doubt, when eyesight was beamed back again from the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Parkes telescope was one of the most important receivers that authorized the environment to see it.2 Upgrades about the yrs have led to the telescope detecting nearly half of all uncovered pulsars as effectively as being nearly 10,000 instances a lot more sensitive than when 1st crafted.

Several points have captured the imagination like the room race of the mid-20th century. Since then, the sector has been quietly having on with factors – but as the marketplace starts growing at breakneck pace, it is time for the relaxation of us to pay attention as soon as a lot more.

The race for house

There is income to be built in area. In the final five yrs, the OECD valued the global space sector at US$277 billion thanks mainly to satellites.3 Investment from venture cash firms, a rise in commence-ups, a reduction in the cost of launching payloads and lesser satellites have all contributed to decreased price of entry.4

In Australia, with the institution of the Australian Area Agency (ASA), there are options to improve the countrywide sector to AU$12 billion a yr by 2030, accompanied by the institution of a lot more than 20,000 place marketplace work.5 The region is perfectly positioned to proceed contributing to the worldwide market, specified its geographical location in the southern hemisphere, as effectively as its best disorders for both of those checking the skies and situating ground facilities (this kind of as reduced mild air pollution and a large amount of vacant land).6

Certainly, the ASA and NASA have announced a mission to ship an Australian-produced, semi-autonomous rover to the moon, granted in aspect because of to the nation’s mining encounter in distant operations and autonomous devices.7* This heritage also speaks to the likely for asteroid and off-globe mining, exactly where the latest scientific studies suggested a single asteroid could have over 700 quintillion pounds value of treasured metals.8  The house industry, of training course, is additional than rockets and trips to the Moon (or Mars) and apart from exploration, is presently producing devices and producing use of satellites for navigation, precision-farming, broadcasting, communications and weather forecasting.

Adelaide, we have a challenge?

Governing administration and personal financial investment, capabilities and scientific capability, work urge for food, actual physical area, the startup landscape and slipping tech expense obstacles are all intermixing in a way that could see Australia become a planet chief in the sector. This opportunity relies on the ability to make a cyber-safe and resilient room marketplace. With the emphasis on prioritising innovation and fast-prototyping, cyber security dangers getting place on the back again burner.

This is problematic, as the privatisation of house and proliferation of cost-effective satellites suggests the option for hackers is growing. Hazard of cyber disruption has been elevated across the whole supply chain – from house autos, satellites and launch automobiles to floor stations, radio hyperlinks, and the manufacturers of software package and hardware components. Although it appears like a Bond film, humanity has without a doubt attained the point when navigation can be interrupted, communications jammed, satellites manipulated, sensitive information stolen, room missions hijacked and satellites (even decommissioned kinds, of which there are thousands) utilised nefariously. 

This is not theoretical. In current geopolitical conflicts satellites have been hacked by country states to convey down communications networks, track military services incursions, jam indicators and spoofed to confuse armed service drones, and certainly, been shot down by way of missiles.9,10 Nations are actively researching methods to damage private satellite networks in the function they had been to threaten national protection.11 These assaults are not minimal to really-resourced, country state actors – hackers have revealed that satellites can be compromised with a number of hundred dollars of quickly available equipment and a laptop computer.12

The actuality is, as the proliferation of firms encouraging launch satellites lowers the price tag of room-based infrastructure, so as well does it decreased the obstacles for cyber adversaries – each established and opportunistic – to trigger disruption.

A safe and sound cyber room

Cybersecurity really should not be thought of as anything that halts innovation. In fact, it is an enabler of much better innovation and more robust rely on. Brakes on a car reduce pace, but they also safely and securely allow for its acceleration. For the area sector, viewing cyber threat holistically as component of broader resilience and secure-by-layout engineering designs is very important to minimising harm and unleashing ambition. 

In Australia, the possibility and chance of strengthening resilience in area has been signalled by authorities recognition of place as significant infrastructure, in which cyber is just one of 4 crucial pillars of ‘all hazards’ danger management. For individuals that function throughout the house benefit chain, the next four imperatives will enable establish powerful cyber resilient organisations and embed security in the systems currently being built, crafted and operated:


  1. Have an open up head and be geared up to throw-out what you now know. Many house technique resilience and technologies practices are centered on attempted-and-analyzed strategies, refined in excess of lots of a long time. But these techniques are dangerously out-of-day with regard to escalating cyber threats. Uplifting cyber maturity has been carried out by several other mission-significant industrial sectors (this sort of as aerospace) and the place sector can reward from their learnings in the age of IT/OT convergence. 


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  3. Frameworks need to be match for goal. Room technique security and resilience is related to, but fairly distinctive from, common command methods. Organisations must glance to stability procedures in operationally tech-large industries, these types of as telecommunications and sophisticated manufacturing. Nevertheless, elementary variations necessarily mean they should really not be adopted wholesale – the most evident case in point being that space-based infrastructure is distant by default, limiting the skill for nearby intervention and failsafes. Physical segregation of manage systems to compensate for very poor safety controls is no longer a practical selection.


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  5. Embed a cybersafe lifestyle by leveraging main protection and programs availability values and concepts. Security invest in-in can be hard when perceived cyber threats are lower, which has historically been the situation in place where by ‘security through obscurity’ has been relied upon for much as well lengthy. It is a tiny and delicate change, but most engineers will comprehend and value problems of program uptime, availability and security, which can then prompt a far more significant cyber protection dialogue. The right language will commence to shift the dial in enabling  a potent, cyber-mindful society.


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  7. Look at the ecosystem results. Place and cyber methods are critical enablers to broader infrastructure and products and services, upon which people rely on.  A concentrate on any single procedure or threat needs to be well balanced with a broader comprehension of the challenges inherited throughout the ecosystem. With no this ‘bigger photograph,’ belief is diminished, decreasing the rewards and rising the expenditures linked with integrating room and cyber into our everyday life and critical infrastructure.


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Elevate off

Space is vitally important to the future economic prosperity and safety of Australia. As we look to the stars with hope, it is critical that we protect ourselves from the danger of nefarious actors intent on resulting in harm to our way of lifetime, our security, and our area-bound aspirations. 

Uplifting cyber resilience across the house sector commences with a tiny move, but it’s one particular that will permit a large leap.


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