Outer Space Hacking: Is the Entire World at Risk?

Media Division | April 26, 2017

Spaceflight has always been one of mankind’s greatest achievements.  Years ago, we embarked upon our first flight into the galaxy beyond where we had never been before. And since then, we have continued to improve upon our flight technology, as well as tech used to send and receive data and communications between bases, shuttles, satellites, and space stations.  There is a large amount of critical data that is transmitted between these different places, and as with any other type of information in our modern age, it must be properly protected from cyber attackers and threats.  There has been growing concern that this information and organizations like NASA may become more highly targeted by cyber attacks.

Potential NASA Targets for Cyber Attackers

The reality is that NASA has the responsibility of guarding a large amount of important systems and data.  The data needing to be defended extends beyond pictures from satellites for instance.  It includes protecting networks within Russia that are related to Americans serving on the International Space Station, as well as various research facilities across the country.

There are several different entities that could desire the information and communications of NASA, such as various companies or nation-states.  With the wide range of potential attacking entities, it makes it critical that NASA secures this type of information very thoroughly.  Especially with the fact that there could easily be disastrous consequences from a successful cyber attack upon their various systems or networks.  One of the greatest concerns is in regard to the potential hacking of the various satellites that are currently in orbit.  This has been a large concern for Jeanette Hanna-Ruiz, the CISO of NASA, as her largest fear would be an attack on a satellite that could potentially take control of it.  Of course, she has worked diligently in bolstering cyber security to prevent this, but the malicious purposes, intents, and methods of hackers never cease to amaze.  They could possibly even target a shuttle directly for a variety of reasons.  There is also the factor of the advanced technologies that NASA builds and employs.  These devices, machines, and transports are built with technologies and software that could be very lucrative for attackers to steal or replicate, or they could simply piggyback the data streams of these devices.

According to the Office of Management and Budget’s annual report to Congress, NASA had reported 1,484 “cyber incidents” from different sources in 2016.  This displays that some attackers have already attempted to breach NASA, which is to be expected, but at this point, it appears that there have been no successful breaches as of late, though they did suffer several successful breaches around 2011.  But, it appears that they have since fortified their security to prevent this occurrence.

How Geo-Targeted Intelligence Can Assist

Obviously, with the modern types of threats that are among us, cyber intelligence is a critical component to security.  Threats and attackers need to be predicted and prevented before they are able to attack, meaning cyber security has moved into a more proactive state by necessity.  But, there are subsections of intelligence that can be employed as well.  Intelligence can be gathered in regard to a specific industry, organization, product, device, etc.  And it can also be gathered in regard to specific locations, areas, or even globally, otherwise known as geo-targeted intelligence.  This can allow an organization to prioritize and receive intelligence that is actually of value to them, as opposed to having to sift through mountains of data to find a single piece of importance.  Massive Alliance’s services include geo-targeted intelligence to provide an organization a valuable inflow of applicable data.

Massive's Media Division publishes timely news and insights based on current events, trends, and actionable cross-industry expertise.