Threat modeling

Use threat modeling, attack surface analysis, and vulnerability analysis to inform the current development process using analysis from similar systems, components, or services where applicable. Reduce attack surface where possible based on threats.

Best Segment for Countermeasure Deployment

  • Development Environment

NIST Rev5 Controls


ISO 27001

ID: CM0020
Created: 2022/10/19
Last Modified: 2023/04/22

Techniques Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Name Description
IA-0001 Compromise Supply Chain Threat actors may manipulate or compromise products or product delivery mechanisms before the customer receives them in order to achieve data or system compromise.
.02 Software Supply Chain Threat actors may manipulate software binaries and applications prior to the customer receiving them in order to achieve data or system compromise. This attack can take place in a number of ways, including manipulation of source code, manipulation of the update and/or distribution mechanism, or replacing compiled versions with a malicious one.
EX-0009 Exploit Code Flaws Threats actors may identify and exploit flaws or weaknesses within the software running on-board the target spacecraft. These attacks may be extremely targeted and tailored to specific coding errors introduced as a result of poor coding practices or they may target known issues in the commercial software components.
.01 Flight Software Threat actors may abuse known or unknown flight software code flaws in order to further the attack campaign. Some FSW suites contain API functionality for operator interaction. Threat actors may seek to exploit these or abuse a vulnerability/misconfiguration to maliciously execute code or commands. In some cases, these code flaws can perpetuate throughout the victim spacecraft, allowing access to otherwise segmented subsystems.
.02 Operating System Threat actors may exploit flaws in the operating system code, which controls the storage, memory management, provides resources to the FSW, and controls the bus. There has been a trend where some modern spacecraft are running Unix-based operating systems and establishing SSH connections for communications between the ground and spacecraft. Threat actors may seek to gain access to command line interfaces & shell environments in these instances. Additionally, most operating systems, including real-time operating systems, include API functionality for operator interaction. Threat actors may seek to exploit these or abuse a vulnerability/misconfiguration to maliciously execute code or commands.
EX-0010 Malicious Code Threat actors may rely on other tactics and techniques in order to execute malicious code on the victim spacecraft. This can be done via compromising the supply chain or development environment in some capacity or taking advantage of known commands. However, once malicious code has been uploaded to the victim spacecraft, the threat actor can then trigger the code to run via a specific command or wait for a legitimate user to trigger it accidently. The code itself can do a number of different things to the hosted payload, subsystems, or underlying OS.
.01 Ransomware Threat actors may encrypt spacecraft data to interrupt availability and usability. Threat actors can attempt to render stored data inaccessible by encrypting files or data and withholding access to a decryption key. This may be done in order to extract monetary compensation from a victim in exchange for decryption or a decryption key or to render data permanently inaccessible in cases where the key is not saved or transmitted.
.02 Wiper Malware Threat actors may deploy wiper malware, which is a type of malicious software designed to destroy data or render it unusable. Wiper malware can spread through various means, software vulnerabilities (CWE/CVE), or by exploiting weak or stolen credentials.
.03 Rootkit Rootkits are programs that hide the existence of malware by intercepting/hooking and modifying operating system API calls that supply system information. Rootkits or rootkit enabling functionality may reside at the flight software or kernel level in the operating system or lower, to include a hypervisor, Master Boot Record, or System Firmware.
.04 Bootkit Adversaries may use bootkits to persist on systems and evade detection. Bootkits reside at a layer below the operating system and may make it difficult to perform full remediation unless an organization suspects one was used and can act accordingly.
PER-0002 Backdoor Threat actors may find and target various backdoors, or inject their own, within the victim spacecraft in the hopes of maintaining their attack.
.02 Software Threat actors may inject code to create their own backdoor to establish persistent access to the spacecraft. This may be done through modification of code throughout the software supply chain or through modification of the software-defined radio configuration (if applicable).
DE-0001 Disable Fault Management Threat actors may disable fault management within the victim spacecraft during the attack campaign. During the development process, many fault management mechanisms are added to the various parts of the spacecraft in order to protect it from a variety of bad/corrupted commands, invalid sensor data, and more. By disabling these mechanisms, threat actors may be able to have commands processed that would not normally be allowed.

Space Threats Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Description
SV-MA-3 Attacks on critical software subsystems   Attitude Determination and Control (AD&C) subsystem determines and controls the orientation of the satellite. Any cyberattack that could disrupt some portion of the control loop - sensor data, computation of control commands, and receipt of the commands would impact operations   Telemetry, Tracking and Commanding (TT&C) subsystem provides interface between satellite and ground system. Computations occur within the RF portion of the TT&C subsystem, presenting cyberattack vector   Command and Data Handling (C&DH) subsystem is the brains of the satellite. It interfaces with other subsystems, the payload, and the ground. It receives, validate, decodes, and sends commands to other subsystems, and it receives, processes, formats, and routes data for both the ground and onboard computer. C&DH has the most cyber content and is likely the biggest target for cyberattack.   Electrical Power Subsystem (EPS) provides, stores, distributes, and controls power on the satellite. An attack on EPS could disrupt, damage, or destroy the satellite.  
SV-SP-1 Exploitation of software vulnerabilities (bugs); Unsecure code, logic errors, etc. in the FSW.  
SV-SP-3 Introduction of malicious software such as a virus, worm, Distributed Denial-Of-Service (DDOS) agent, keylogger, rootkit, or Trojan Horse  
SV-AV-5 Using fault management system against you. Understanding the fault response could be leveraged to get satellite in vulnerable state. Example, safe mode with crypto bypass, orbit correction maneuvers, affecting integrity of TLM to cause action from ground, or some sort of RPO to cause S/C to go into safe mode;  
SV-MA-6 Not planning for security on SV or designing in security from the beginning  
SV-SP-2 Testing only focuses on functional requirements and rarely considers end to end or abuse cases