Adventures in Cyber Space: An introduction to satellite cybersecurity
Over the next decade, the number of satellites in orbit will increase by an order of magnitude. As thousands of new space missions launch, it is increasingly vital to defend them from cyber-attack. But where should we start, and how should we identify the most challenging and important problems in space security?
This talk will explore those questions. We’ll start with an introduction to the theory of digital counterspace and the role of cyber-attacks in space security. From there, we’ll build a simulated attack against critical space navigational data and see how deceptions in databases on earth can have meaningful consequences for systems in orbit. We will also explore some real-world offensive security research against long-range satellite communications, showing how inexpensive equipment can be used by adversaries to intercept deeply sensitive information from modern satellite broadband networks.
Based on these examples, we’ll identify key aspects of space cyber-security for security researchers to tackle. By the end of this presentation, members of the audience should have a sense of what remains to be solved for space security and how they can contribute. While this talk includes technical components, no prior knowledge of space systems security is required.
Dr. James Pavur is a Digital Service Expert at the DoD Directorate for Digital Services where he advises and assists the US Department of Defense in implementing modern digital solutions to urgent and novel challenges. Prior to joining DDS, James received his PhD. from Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science as a Rhodes Scholar. His thesis “Securing New Space: On Satellite Cybersecurity” focused on the security of modern space platforms - with a particular interest in vulnerability identification and remediation. His previous research on satellite security has been published at top academic venues, such as IEEE S&P and NDSS, presented at major cybersecurity conferences, including Black Hat USA and DEFCON, and covered in the popular press. Outside of tech, James enjoys flying kites and collecting rare and interesting teas.