The spacecraft should protect system components, associated data communications, and communication buses in accordance with TEMPEST controls to prevent side channel / proximity attacks. Encompass the spacecraft critical components with a casing/shielding so as to prevent access to the individual critical components.


Best Segment for Countermeasure Deployment

  • Space Segment

NIST Rev5 Controls

ID: CM0003
Created: 2022/10/19
Last Modified: 2022/12/08

Techniques Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Name Description
REC-0005 Eavesdropping Threat actors may seek to capture network communications throughout the ground station and radio frequency (RF) communication used for uplink and downlink communications. RF communication frequencies vary between 30MHz and 60 GHz. Threat actors may capture RF communications using specialized hardware, such as software defined radio (SDR), handheld radio, or a computer with radio demodulator turned to the communication frequency. Network communications may be captured using packet capture software while the threat actor is on the target network.
.03 Proximity Operations Threat actors may capture signals and/or network communications as they travel on-board the vehicle (i.e., EMSEC/TEMPEST), via RF, or terrestrial networks. This information can be decoded to determine commanding and telemetry protocols, command times, and other information that could be used for future attacks.
IA-0003 Crosslink via Compromised Neighbor Threat actors may compromise a victim spacecraft via the crosslink communications of a neighboring spacecraft that has been compromised. spacecraft in close proximity are able to send commands back and forth. Threat actors may be able to leverage this access to compromise other spacecraft once they have access to another that is nearby.
IA-0005 Rendezvous & Proximity Operations Threat actors may perform a space rendezvous which is a set of orbital maneuvers during which a spacecraft arrives at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance (e.g. within visual contact or close proximity) to a target spacecraft.
.01 Compromise Emanations Threat actors in close proximity may intercept and analyze electromagnetic radiation emanating from cryptoequipment and/or the target spacecraft(i.e., main bus) to determine whether the emanations are information bearing. The data could be used to establish initial access.
.02 Docked Vehicle / OSAM Threat actors may leverage docking vehicles to laterally move into a target spacecraft. If information is known on docking plans, a threat actor may target vehicles on the ground or in space to deploy malware to laterally move or execute malware on the target spacecraft via the docking interface.
.03 Proximity Grappling Threat actors may posses the capability to grapple target spacecraft once it has established the appropriate space rendezvous. If from a proximity / rendezvous perspective a threat actor has the ability to connect via docking interface or expose testing (i.e., JTAG port) once it has grappled the target spacecraft, they could perform various attacks depending on the access enabled via the physical connection.
LM-0003 Constellation Hopping via Crosslink Threat actors may attempt to command another neighboring spacecraft via crosslink. spacecraft in close proximity are often able to send commands back and forth. Threat actors may be able to leverage this access to compromise another spacecraft.
LM-0004 Visiting Vehicle Interface(s) Threat actors may move from one spacecraft to another through visiting vehicle interfaces. When a vehicle docks with a spacecraft, many programs are automatically triggered in order to ensure docking mechanisms are locked. This entails several data points and commands being sent to and from the spacecraft and the visiting vehicle. If a threat actor were to compromise a visiting vehicle, they could target these specific programs in order to send malicious commands to the victim spacecraft once docked.
EXF-0002 Side-Channel Attack Threat actors may use a side-channel attack attempts to gather information by measuring or exploiting indirect effects of the spacecraft. Information within the spacecraft can be extracted through these side-channels in which sensor data is analyzed in non-trivial ways to recover subtle, hidden or unexpected information. A series of measurements of a side-channel constitute an identifiable signature which can then be matched against a signature database to identify target information, without having to explicitly decode the side-channel.
.02 Electromagnetic Leakage Attacks Threat actors can leverage electromagnetic emanations to obtain sensitive information. The electromagnetic radiations attain importance when they are hardware generated emissions, especially emissions from the cryptographic module. Electromagnetic leakage attacks have been shown to be more successful than power analysis attacks on chicards. If proper protections are not in place on the spacecraft, the circuitry is exposed and hence leads to stronger emanations of EM radiations. If the circuitry is exposed, it provides an easier environment to study the electromagnetic emanations from each individual component.
EXF-0005 Proximity Operations Threat actors may leverage the lack of emission security or tempest controls to exfiltrate information using a visiting spacecraft. This is similar to side-channel attacks but leveraging a visiting spacecraft to measure the signals for decoding purposes.

Space Threats Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Description
SV-CF-2 Eavesdropping (RF and proximity)  
SV-MA-2 Heaters and flow valves of the propulsion subsystem are controlled by electric signals so cyberattacks against these signals could cause propellant lines to freeze, lock valves, waste propellant or even put in de-orbit or unstable spinning  
SV-AC-5 Proximity operations (i.e., grappling satellite)  
SV-AC-1 Attempting access to an access-controlled system resulting in unauthorized access  
SV-CF-1 Tapping of communications links (wireline, RF, network) resulting in loss of confidentiality; Traffic analysis to determine which entities are communicating with each other without being able to read the communicated information  
SV-IT-1 Communications system spoofing resulting in denial of service and loss of availability and data integrity  
SV-AC-7 Weak communication protocols. Ones that don't have strong encryption within it