Authenticate all communication sessions (crosslink and ground stations) for all commands before establishing remote connections using bidirectional authentication that is cryptographically based. Adding authentication on the spacecraft bus and communications on-board the spacecraft is also recommended.

Best Segment for Countermeasure Deployment

  • Space Segment

NIST Rev5 Controls

ID: CM0031
Created: 2022/10/19
Last Modified: 2022/12/08

Techniques Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Name Description
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.
EX-0001 Replay Replay attacks involve threat actors recording previously data streams and then resending them at a later time. This attack can be used to fingerprint systems, gain elevated privileges, or even cause a denial of service.
.01 Command Packets Threat actors may interact with the victim spacecraft by replaying captured commands to the spacecraft. While not necessarily malicious in nature, replayed commands can be used to overload the target spacecraft and cause it's onboard systems to crash, perform a DoS attack, or monitor various responses by the spacecraft. If critical commands are captured and replayed, thruster fires, then the impact could impact the spacecraft's attitude control/orbit.
EX-0006 Disable/Bypass Encryption Threat actors may perform specific techniques in order to bypass or disable the encryption mechanism onboard the victim spacecraft. By bypassing or disabling this particular mechanism, further tactics can be performed, such as Exfiltration, that may have not been possible with the internal encryption process in place.
EX-0014 Spoofing Threat actors may attempt to spoof the various sensor and controller data that is depended upon by various subsystems within the victim spacecraft. Subsystems rely on this data to perform automated tasks, process gather data, and return important information to the ground controllers. By spoofing this information, threat actors could trigger automated tasks to fire when they are not needed to, potentially causing the spacecraft to behave erratically. Further, the data could be processed erroneously, causing ground controllers to receive incorrect telemetry or scientific data, threatening the spacecraft's reliability and integrity.
.01 Time Spoof Threat actors may attempt to target the internal timers onboard the victim spacecraft and spoof their data. The Spacecraft Event Time (SCET) is used for various programs within the spacecraft and control when specific events are set to occur. Ground controllers use these timed events to perform automated processes as the spacecraft is in orbit in order for it to fulfill it's purpose. Threat actors that target this particular system and attempt to spoof it's data could cause these processes to trigger early or late.
.02 Bus Traffic Threat actors may attempt to target the main or secondary bus onboard the victim spacecraft and spoof their data. The spacecraft bus often directly processes and sends messages from the ground controllers to the various subsystems within the spacecraft and between the subsystems themselves. If a threat actor would target this system and spoof it internally, the subsystems would take the spoofed information as legitimate and process it as normal. This could lead to undesired effects taking place that could damage the spacecraft's subsystems, hosted payload, and critical data.
.03 Sensor Data Threat actors may target sensor data on the space vehicle to achieve their attack objectives. Sensor data is typically inherently trusted by the space vehicle therefore an attractive target for a threat actor. Spoofing the sensor data could affect the calculations and disrupt portions of a control loop as well as create uncertainty within the mission thereby creating temporary denial of service conditions for the mission. Affecting the integrity of the sensor data can have varying impacts on the space vehicle depending on decisions being made by the space vehicle using the sensor data. For example, spoofing data related to attitude control could adversely impact the space vehicles ability to maintain orbit.
.04 Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Threat actors may attempt to spoof Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals (i.e. GPS, Galileo, etc.) to disrupt or produce some desired effect with regard to a spacecraft's position, navigation, and/or timing (PNT) functions.
DE-0004 Masquerading Threat actors may gain access to a victim spacecraft by masquerading as an authorized entity. This can be done several ways, including through the manipulation of command headers, spoofing locations, or even leveraging Insider's access (i.e., Insider Threat)
LM-0002 Exploit Lack of Bus Segregation Threat actors may exploit victim spacecraft on-board flat architecture for lateral movement purposes. Depending on implementation decisions, spacecraft can have a completely flat architecture where remote terminals, sub-systems, payloads, etc. can all communicate on the same main bus without any segmentation, authentication, etc. Threat actors can leverage this poor design to send specially crafted data from one compromised devices or sub-system. This could enable the threat actor to laterally move to another area of the spacecraft or escalate privileges (i.e., bus master, bus controller)
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-0001 Replay Threat actors may exfiltrate data by replaying commands and capturing the telemetry or payload data as it is sent down. One scenario would be the threat actor replays commands to downlink payload data once the spacecraft is within certain location so the data can be intercepted on the downlink by threat actor ground terminals.
EXF-0004 Out-of-Band Communications Link Threat actors may attempt to exfiltrate data via the out-of-band communication channels. While performing eavesdropping on the primary/second uplinks and downlinks is a method for exfiltration, some space vehicles leverage out-of-band communication links to perform actions on the space vehicle (i.e., re-keying). These out-of-band links would occur on completely different channels/frequencies and often operate on separate hardware on the space vehicle. Typically these out-of-band links have limited built-for-purpose functionality and likely do not present an initial access vector but they do provide ample exfiltration opportunity.
EXF-0010 Payload Communication Channel Threat actors can deploy malicious software on the payload(s) which can send data through the payload channel. Payloads often have their own communication channels outside of the main TT&C pathway which presents an opportunity for exfiltration of payload data or other spacecraft data depending on the interface and data exchange.

Space Threats Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Description
SV-AC-3 Compromised master keys or any encryption key  
SV-CF-2 Eavesdropping (RF and proximity)  
SV-IT-2 Unauthorized modification or corruption of data  
SV-AC-6 Three main parts of S/C. CPU, memory, I/O interfaces with parallel and/or serial ports. These are connected via busses (i.e., 1553) and need segregated. Supply chain attack on CPU (FPGA/ASICs), supply chain attack to get malware burned into memory through the development process, and rogue RTs on 1553 bus via hosted payloads are all threats. Security or fault management being disabled by non-mission critical or payload; fault injection or MiTM into the 1553 Bus - China has developed fault injector for 1553 - this could be a hosted payload attack if payload has access to main 1553 bus; One piece of FSW affecting another. Things are not containerized from the OS or FSW perspective;  
SV-AC-8 Malicious Use of hardware commands - backdoors / critical commands  
SV-AC-1 Attempting access to an access-controlled system resulting in unauthorized access  
SV-AC-2 Replay of recorded authentic communications traffic at a later time with the hope that the authorized communications will provide data or some other system reaction  
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-4 Masquerading as an authorized entity in order to gain access/Insider Threat