Foreign Spies And Hackers Target The US Space Industry

Posted on August 23, 2023 at 7:27 AM

Foreign Spies And Hackers Target The US Space Industry

Intelligence agencies in the United States have warned about foreign spies targeting the US space sector. According to these agencies, hackers have also been launching hacking campaigns against the US space industry, which could significantly affect the US satellite infrastructure.

Foreign spies and hackers target the US space industry

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NSCS), which serves under the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, made the revelation. The warning said foreign intelligence agencies might turn to cyberattacks, shell companies, and espionage attacks to compromise the US space sector.

The hacking campaigns conducted by the attackers seek to collect sensitive information on the capabilities of the US space industry and innovative technologies. The warning also addressed counterspace systems such as satellite jamming or hacking. Such campaigns disrupt and degrade the operations of US satellite systems.

The NCSC published a bulletin saying that foreign intelligence agencies had identified the benefits of the commercial space industry. These agencies wanted to work to determine how this industry benefits the US economy and drives national security. The spies also monitored the increased dependence of critical infrastructure on space assets.

The bulletin provides several guidelines that can aid private companies in mitigating any potential damage of the espionage campaigns. The warning also comes as the US continues to pour investments into the US space industry. The US satellite infrastructure has also continued to grow significantly and is now reaching new levels.

The NCSC also noted the different techniques used by hackers to obtain access to satellite systems and gain access to expertise and new technologies. Some of the spying methods used by these hackers include traditional phishing techniques by approaching US space industry experts.

Foreign spies usually reach out to these experts during conferences or by contacting them through online forums. The spies seek information about the US space industry from these hackers.

The other technique used by these spies is related to business dealings. Foreign intelligence agencies often try to secure access to sensitive information using shell companies or joint ventures. These agencies seek to invest in space companies to access these systems.

In some cases, foreign spies can also invest resources to be part of the supply chain in the American aerospace industry. The attackers join this supply chain to steal source parts and materials from the hackers.

Cybercriminals are also running hacking campaigns

Some of the techniques used by these hackers are more explicit, including conducting cyberattacks and hacking campaigns against private networks. The attackers seek to steal intellectual property in such campaigns.

In 2021, NASA was among the organizations targeted by the major breach at SolarWinds. The SolarWinds breach was among the largest hacking attacks ever reported targeting critical infrastructure in the US.

Following this attack, the leadership at the agency said that the cyberattack was a “wakeup call.” The agency noted a need to secure the networks on which SolarWinds depends to store and disseminate sensitive technical information.

Besides the recent warning, the NCSC also said that foreign spies could compromise US national security by gathering sensitive data. These hackers could gather data related to satellite payloads, disrupting and degrading US satellite communications, remote sensing, and imaging capabilities. The attacks could also target the US commercial space infrastructure during global conflicts.

These hacking campaigns have increased significantly since the invasion of Russia by Ukraine early last year. Starlink, an internet communications satellite, has been targeted severally by cyberattacks.

In March last year, Elon Musk noted that some Starlink terminals based near the conflict zone were jammed for several hours. The United States Space Force also said that the hacking campaign targeted GPS signals in Ukraine.

Since the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, Ukraine has been targeted severally by hacking campaigns. However, the US has also been a top target in the past. The vice chief of space operations for the United States Space Force, David D. Thompson, said US satellites were under attack each day.

The US is now improving the existing systems to address these attacks. The US Space Force now has a dedicated unit to target foreign satellites. The unit is also training personnel on how to use “live fire” satellite jamming.

Foreign Spies And Hackers Target The US Space Industry
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Foreign Spies And Hackers Target The US Space Industry
Foreign spies and hackers have targeted the US space industry. These adversaries have launched hacking campaigns against the sector. According to US intelligence, the goal of these hacking campaigns is to collect sensitive information.
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