Cyber & Space Security: new challenges

cyber security ben israel

On Friday, November 23, Link Campus University has hosted a dedicated seminar on Cyber Security as part of its Master’s Degree programme focused on the topic.

A number of high-profile speakers took part in the seminar including Prof. Isaac Ben Israel, Director of the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Studies Centre, the University of Tel Aviv, Dr Stefano Zatti, head of the European Space Agency Security Office, Dr Carlo Magrassi, adviser to the Italian Ministry of Defence for Industrial Policy.

On this occasion General Director of LCU Pasquale Russo gave speech on the subject. We report it hereafter:

"I had to take note that Space (around the Earth) no longer exists. Or at least the Space I remember no longer exists. Technological innovations in the field of materials, fuels, driving systems, etc. etc. and all network technologies, have incorporated space making it less mythical and rather a territory to be anthropized.

Nowadays the movie "First Man" (first man on the moon) is in italian theaters and I noticed that while I want to see the film, maybe to reconcile with my adolescence, my seventeen year old son does not have the same interest in it. For him space is Elon Musk with his Space X, a shuttle of a private entrepreneur who leaves Earth, goes into space and returns from where he left, all in an automatic way.

Space is also no longer the shared territory of Humanity, and the International Space Station, which at best represents the desire of Man to discover this domain, sooner or later will see initiatives of sovereignty and the the astronauts will divide, according to nationalities, the dining room and even toilets.

Except for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) of Ronald Regan, known as Space Shield, the neutrality of Space as a place of research has vanished, now it is becoming a commercial domain and therefore a domain where companies have to compete to acquire a dominant position in a geopolitical game, or market to sell rooms in Hotel for the Christmas holidays.

The majority of the satellites in orbit are a patchwork of components to which different countries have worked, without any supply chain cybersecurity control, rather based on the mutual trust that normally exists between scientists and researchers, without any fear of being hacked, and many of them were built when the Internet was a baby.

But even military satellites, spy satellites, designed and built many years ago, did not care much about information security, the main concerns were to prevent an enemy satellite from spraying paint on the lenses, to neutralize the vision.

The current situation is that Space Agencies, the satellite industry, cybersecurity researchers, nongovernmental bodies, and intergovernmental satellite organizations show increasing awareness of the space cybersecurity challenge. Nevertheless, experts are worried. NASA’s former chief information security officer, Jeanette Hanna-Ruiz, warned that “it’s a matter of time before someone hacks into something in space.”

And in 2016, Chatham House's David Livingstone asserted that "people are just shuffling... paper around" and suggested that only "a disaster" might catalyze serious action.

In this Research paper of Chatman House 9/2016: Space, the Final Frontier for Cybersecurity? the researchers described the following scenario:

Much of the world’s critical infrastructure – such as communications, air transport, maritime trade, financial and other business services, weather and environmental monitoring and defence systems – depends on the space infrastructure, including satellites, ground stations and data links at national, regional and international levels.

· Satellites and other space assets, just like other parts of the digitized critical infrastructure, are vulnerable to cyberattack. Cyber vulnerabilities in space therefore pose serious risks for ground- based critical infrastructure, and insecurities in the space environment will hinder economic development and increase the risks to society.

· Cyberattacks on satellites can include jamming, spoofing and hacking attacks on communication networks; targeting control systems or mission packages; and attacks on the ground infrastructure such as satellite control centres. Possible cyberthreats against space-based systems include state- to-state and military actions; well-resourced organized criminal elements seeking financial gain; terrorist groups wishing to promote their causes, even up to the catastrophic level of cascading satellite collisions; and individual hackers who want to fanfare their skills.

· The pace at which technology evolves makes it hard, or even impossible, to devise a timely response to space cyberthreats. Humans too are affected by ‘digital ageing’ and legacy issues, and younger people use space-based and cyber communications in ways that make it difficult for older generations – and thus by implication some senior decision-makers – to fully understand the range of technologies and threats.

· Technology alone cannot provide the basis for policymaking on cybersecurity. Entirely or largely technological approaches do not have the breadth or depth to allow comprehensive participation, and would exclude many stakeholders who could otherwise contribute usefully to responses to the variety of threats propagated through the internet

Then in 1989, Prof. Isaac Ben Israel wrote an article: Philosophy and methodology of intelligence. The logic of estimate process, and in 2018 the book Intelligence Analysis Understanding Reality in an Era of Dramatic Changes where on the introduction he defines four challenges:

· The Challenge of Emergence

· The Challenge of Disappearance

· The Challenge of Speed

· The Challenge of Constant Change

The pillars was two statements:

· The primary role of intelligence analysis is clarifying reality - current and future, and understanding it. This definition assumes, of course, the existence of such a reality that can be clarified and understood. It rejects other approaches, which view the production of intelligence knowledge as a process of creating or building a new reality, and not as the reflection, disclosure or assessment of an existing or future reality. It obviously rejects approaches that deny, in principle, the existence of a reality that is not dependent on our interpretation.

· The role of analysis is practical and not theoretical. It is entirely directed towards the process of policy making, operational planning and force building. As an institution for clarifying and understanding reality, intelligence analysis is the primary learning generator about the enemy and the environment. In many cases, it also lays the ground for decision making processes, and assumes an active and central role in discussions regarding these issues. Another significant role of intelligence analysis is to shape the overall intelligence effort, with an emphasis on collection.

How can we clarify the reality of cyber attacks in space? In the next four years almost another billion of people will be connected to the Internet and when the 5G will be realized many new users of space services, like the simple GPS or Netflix, will be in Africa or India, where cybersecurity is not the priority, so to face the four challenges I mentioned before, will become really high. Is the time that the West launch a common program on Artificial Intelligence for space defense?

I think that the “attack surface” of space activities is expanding rapidly, but governments and industry are not taking adequate action or so it appeare."