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U.S. Intelligence Alerts of Attempts to Infiltrate Space Industry

The intelligence community is on high alert for attempts by foreign adversaries to infiltrate America’s commercial space sector. These adversaries are employing tactics such as cyberattacks, strategic investments, and espionage to gain access to critical networks and technologies.

A recent advisory from counterintelligence officials highlights the need for American space companies to be vigilant. They should be wary of unusually high cyber activity, requests to visit company facilities, recruitment attempts, and investment offers.

While the August alert did not name specific countries, known threats to the commercial space industry include China and Russia. These foreign intelligence entities recognize the economic and national security importance of the U.S. commercial space industry. They view U.S. space-related innovation and assets as both potential threats and valuable opportunities for acquiring vital technologies and expertise.

The Biden administration has previously observed Russia conducting destructive cyberattacks against the commercial space sector. Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that Russia had used cyberattacks to disrupt Ukrainian command and control networks through commercial satellite communications.

China, on the other hand, is raising concerns with its reported development of powerful cyberweapons capable of hijacking satellites. According to leaked documents, China has been working on a cyberweapon surpassing anything Russia has deployed against Ukraine. While the exact capabilities of this cyberweapon remain undisclosed, it highlights the evolving threat landscape in space.

To address this growing threat, the advisory suggests that commercial space companies should regularly review their security practices. Collaboration between lawyers, IT workers, and human resource offices is crucial. The counterintelligence officials recommend establishing an “anomaly” log to track peculiar incidents and potential malicious trends, as well as implementing an insider threat program.

The cyber and espionage threat to the commercial space sector is expected to persist as the industry continues to grow. With the global space economy projected to reach $1 trillion by 2030, the U.S. is at the forefront of driving this growth.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Unique Perspective:

As the commercial space industry becomes increasingly reliant on advanced technologies and interconnected networks, the need for robust cybersecurity measures is paramount. The potential consequences of foreign adversaries gaining access to critical space-based assets are significant, ranging from disrupting communication systems to compromising national security. It is imperative for space companies to remain vigilant and stay one step ahead of evolving cyber threats. Collaboration between government agencies, intelligence community, and private sector entities is essential to ensure the continued growth and security of the commercial space industry.

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