Air Force exploring systems that safeguard spacecraft network security

Air Force wants to ensure cybersecurity of space development systems

How are all manner of spacecraft development from the space parts supply chain to actual space operations protected from those who would try to penetrate or disrupt the networks involved in that process?

The US Air Force Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has put out a call for research to understand that security scenario stating that  "we are much less concerned about information on the broader themes of cyber-security but rather those that pertain to the mission of the spacecraft, the spacecraft as a platform, the systems that constitute the spacecraft, the computers and their software, the busses and networks within, and the elements that interface to the spacecraft ( peer systems, ground operations, users, developers) throughout its acquisition lifecycle from requirement to sustainment. AFRL is considering funding research in this targeted technology area and is attempting to gauge industry and academic expertise and capability."

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The list of areas the Air Force is concerned about or at least interested in learning more about is extensive. 

Among the technologies the AFRL specifically says it is interested in:

  • Novel techniques, technologies, and systems to enable spacecraft mission assurance in a contested cyber environment.
  • Innovative cyber-secure telemetry, tracking, and commanding (TT&C) tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) as an enhancement to existing space information assurance technology.
  • Cyber-hard embedded spacecraft flight computers, microprocessors, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and (in general) digital finite state machinery and associated networks, busses, and point-to-point connections, to include architectural, software, and interconnect/interface technologies.
  • Robust construction methodologies for building spacecraft, to include the supply chains of components, software, tools, and tool-chains.
  • Analytic tools and frameworks that permit enhanced understanding of the concepts behind both the vulnerability of present and better engineering of future systems to cyber-attack.
  • Technologies that will allow survivable spacecraft missions under adverse cyber stress.
  • Technologies for effectively modeling and reasoning about our onboard space systems that enable them to distinguish among anomalies caused by system failures, adversarial actions, and environmental effects.
  • Survivable C3, autonomous self-healing systems, and trusted architectures.
  • Advanced engineering techniques that permit mathematical specification of spacecraft functions and formal verification of the security properties of the implementation.
  • Methodologies for spacecraft cyber defense-in-depth, focusing primarily on threat avoidance through vulnerability mitigation, and allowing mission survival with graceful degradation under cyber-attack.
  • Unique software or procedural approaches for providing protection to deployed / legacy space systems.
  • Technologies to provide indications of an active cyber-attack against a spacecraft.

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