CP-11 - Alternate Communications Protocols

Provide the capability to employ [Assignment: organization-defined alternative communications protocols] in support of maintaining continuity of operations.

Informational References

ISO 27001

ID: CP-11

Countermeasures Covered by Control

ID Name Description D3FEND
CM0074 Distributed Constellations A distributed system uses a number of nodes, working together, to perform the same mission or functions as a single node. In a distributed constellation, the end user is not dependent on any single satellite but rather uses multiple satellites to derive a capability. A distributed constellation can complicate an adversary’s counterspace planning by presenting a larger number of targets that must be successfully attacked to achieve the same effects as targeting just one or two satellites in a less-distributed architecture. GPS is an example of a distributed constellation because the functioning of the system is not dependent on any single satellite or ground station; a user can use any four satellites within view to get a time and position fix.* *https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/210225_Harrison_Defense_Space.pdf?N2KWelzCz3hE3AaUUptSGMprDtBlBSQG D3-AI D3-NNI D3-SYSM D3-DEM D3-SVCDM D3-SYSVA
CM0075 Proliferated Constellations Proliferated satellite constellations deploy a larger number of the same types of satellites to similar orbits to perform the same missions. While distribution relies on placing more satellites or payloads on orbit that work together to provide a complete capability, proliferation is simply building more systems (or maintaining more on-orbit spares) to increase the constellation size and overall capacity. Proliferation can be an expensive option if the systems being proliferated are individually expensive, although highly proliferated systems may reduce unit costs in production from the learning curve effect and economies of scale.* *https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/210225_Harrison_Defense_Space.pdf?N2KWelzCz3hE3AaUUptSGMprDtBlBSQG D3-AI D3-NNI D3-SYSM D3-DEM D3-SVCDM D3-SYSVA
CM0076 Diversified Architectures In a diversified architecture, multiple systems contribute to the same mission using platforms and payloads that may be operating in different orbits or in different domains. For example, wideband communications to fixed and mobile users can be provided by the military’s WGS system, commercial SATCOM systems, airborne communication nodes, or terrestrial networks. The Chinese BeiDou system for positioning, navigation, and timing uses a diverse set of orbits, with satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO), highly inclined GEO, and medium Earth orbit (MEO). Diversification reduces the incentive for an adversary to attack any one of these systems because the impact on the overall mission will be muted since systems in other orbits or domains can be used to compensate for losses. Moreover, attacking space systems in diversified orbits may require different capabilities for each orbital regime, and the collateral damage from such attacks, such as orbital debris, could have a much broader impact politically and economically.* *https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/210225_Harrison_Defense_Space.pdf?N2KWelzCz3hE3AaUUptSGMprDtBlBSQG D3-AI D3-NNI D3-SYSM D3-DEM D3-SVCDM D3-SYSVA
CM0072 Protocol Update / Refactoring A protocol is a set of rules (i.e., formats and procedures) to implement and control some type of association (e.g., communication) between systems. Protocols can have vulnerabilities within their specification and may require updating or refactoring based on vulnerabilities or emerging threats (i.e., quantum computing). D3-NM D3-NVA D3-AI D3-AVE D3-SYSM D3-SYSVA D3-OAM D3-ORA D3-PMAD

Space Threats Tagged by Control

ID Description

Sample Requirements


Related SPARTA Techniques and Sub-Techniques

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.
REC-0005.01 Uplink Intercept Threat actors may capture the RF communications as it pertains to the uplink to the victim spacecraft. This information can contain commanding information that the threat actor can use to perform other attacks against the victim spacecraft.
REC-0005.02 Downlink Intercept Threat actors may capture the RF communications as it pertains to the downlink of the victim spacecraft. This information can contain important telemetry such as onboard status and mission data.
REC-0005.03 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-0008 Rogue External Entity Threat actors may gain access to a victim spacecraft through the use of a rogue external entity. With this technique, the threat actor does not need access to a legitimate ground station or communication site.
IA-0008.03 ASAT/Counterspace Weapon Threat actors may utilize counterspace platforms to access/impact spacecraft. These counterspace capabilities vary significantly in the types of effects they create, the level of technological sophistication required, and the level of resources needed to develop and deploy them. These diverse capabilities also differ in how they are employed and how easy they are to detect and attribute and the permanence of the effects they have on their target.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0016 Jamming Threat actors may attempt to jam Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals (i.e. GPS, Galileo, etc.) to inhibit a spacecraft's position, navigation, and/or timing functions.
EX-0016.01 Uplink Jamming An uplink jammer is used to interfere with signals going up to a satellite by creating enough noise that the satellite cannot distinguish between the real signal and the noise. Uplink jamming of the control link, for example, can prevent satellite operators from sending commands to a satellite. However, because the uplink jammer must be within the field of view of the antenna on the satellite receiving the command link, the jammer must be physically located within the vicinity of the command station on the ground.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0016.02 Downlink Jamming Downlink jammers target the users of a satellite by creating noise in the same frequency as the downlink signal from the satellite. A downlink jammer only needs to be as powerful as the signal being received on the ground and must be within the field of view of the receiving terminal’s antenna. This limits the number of users that can be affected by a single jammer. Since many ground terminals use directional antennas pointed at the sky, a downlink jammer typically needs to be located above the terminal it is attempting to jam. This limitation can be overcome by employing a downlink jammer on an air or space-based platform, which positions the jammer between the terminal and the satellite. This also allows the jammer to cover a wider area and potentially affect more users. Ground terminals with omnidirectional antennas, such as many GPS receivers, have a wider field of view and thus are more susceptible to downlink jamming from different angles on the ground.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0017 Kinetic Physical Attack Kinetic physical attacks attempt to damage or destroy space- or land-based space assets. They typically are organized into three categories: direct-ascent, co-orbital, and ground station attacks [beyond the focus of SPARTA at this time]. The nature of these attacks makes them easier to attribute and allow for better confirmation of success on the part of the attacker.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0017.01 Direct Ascent ASAT A direct-ascent ASAT is often the most commonly thought of threat to space assets. It typically involves a medium- or long-range missile launching from the Earth to damage or destroy a satellite in orbit. This form of attack is often easily attributed due to the missile launch which can be easily detected. Due to the physical nature of the attacks, they are irreversible and provide the attacker with near real-time confirmation of success. Direct-ascent ASATs create orbital debris which can be harmful to other objects in orbit. Lower altitudes allow for more debris to burn up in the atmosphere, while attacks at higher altitudes result in more debris remaining in orbit, potentially damaging other spacecraft in orbit.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0017.02 Co-Orbital ASAT Co-orbital ASAT attacks are when another satellite in orbit is used to attack. The attacking satellite is first placed into orbit, then later maneuvered into an intercepting orbit. This form of attack requires a sophisticated on-board guidance system to successfully steer into the path of another satellite. A co-orbital attack can be a simple space mine with a small explosive that follows the orbital path of the targeted satellite and detonates when within range. Another co-orbital attack strategy is using a kinetic-kill vehicle (KKV), which is any object that can be collided into a target satellite.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0018 Non-Kinetic Physical Attack A non-kinetic physical attack is when a satellite is physically damaged without any direct contact. Non-kinetic physical attacks can be characterized into a few types: electromagnetic pulses, high-powered lasers, and high-powered microwaves. These attacks have medium possible attribution levels and often provide little evidence of success to the attacker.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0018.01 Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) An EMP, such as those caused by high-altitude detonation of certain bombs, is an indiscriminate form of attack in space. For example, a nuclear detonation in space releases an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would have near immediate consequences for the satellites within range. The detonation also creates a high radiation environment that accelerates the degradation of satellite components in the affected orbits.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0018.02 High-Powered Laser A high-powered laser can be used to permanently or temporarily damage critical satellite components (i.e. solar arrays or optical centers). If directed toward a satellite’s optical center, the attack is known as blinding or dazzling. Blinding, as the name suggests, causes permanent damage to the optics of a satellite. Dazzling causes temporary loss of sight for the satellite. While there is clear attribution of the location of the laser at the time of the attack, the lasers used in these attacks may be mobile, which can make attribution to a specific actor more difficult because the attacker does not have to be in their own nation, or even continent, to conduct such an attack. Only the satellite operator will know if the attack is successful, meaning the attacker has limited confirmation of success, as an attacked nation may not choose to announce that their satellite has been attacked or left vulnerable for strategic reasons. A high-powered laser attack can also leave the targeted satellite disabled and uncontrollable, which could lead to collateral damage if the satellite begins to drift. A higher-powered laser may permanently damage a satellite by overheating its parts. The parts most susceptible to this are satellite structures, thermal control panels, and solar panels.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
EX-0018.03 High-Powered Microwave High-powered microwave (HPM) weapons can be used to disrupt or destroy a satellite’s electronics. A “front-door” HPM attack uses a satellite’s own antennas as an entry path, while a “back-door” attack attempts to enter through small seams or gaps around electrical connections and shielding. A front-door attack is more straightforward to carry out, provided the HPM is positioned within the field of view of the antenna that it is using as a pathway, but it can be thwarted if the satellite uses circuits designed to detect and block surges of energy entering through the antenna. In contrast, a back-door attack is more challenging, because it must exploit design or manufacturing flaws, but it can be conducted from many angles relative to the satellite. Both types of attacks can be either reversible or irreversible; however, the attacker may not be able to control the severity of the damage from the attack. Both front-door and back-door HPM attacks can be difficult to attribute to an attacker, and like a laser weapon, the attacker may not know if the attack has been successful. A HPM attack may leave the target satellite disabled and uncontrollable which can cause it to drift into other satellites, creating further collateral damage.* *https://aerospace.csis.org/aerospace101/counterspace-weapons-101
DE-0002 Prevent Downlink Threat actors may target the downlink connections to prevent the victim spacecraft from sending telemetry to the ground controllers. Telemetry is the only method in which ground controllers can monitor the health and stability of the spacecraft while in orbit. By disabling this downlink, threat actors may be able to stop mitigations from taking place.
DE-0002.02 Jam Link Signal Threat actors may overwhelm/jam the downlink signal to prevent transmitted telemetry signals from reaching their destination without severe modification/interference, effectively leaving ground controllers unaware of vehicle activity during this time. Telemetry is the only method in which ground controllers can monitor the health and stability of the spacecraft while in orbit. By disabling this downlink, threat actors may be able to stop mitigations from taking place.
EXF-0003 Eavesdropping Threat actors may seek to capture network communications throughout the ground station and communication channel (i.e. radio frequency, optical) used for uplink and downlink communications
EXF-0003.01 Uplink Intercept Threat actors may target the uplink connection from the victim ground infrastructure to the target spacecraft in order to exfiltrate commanding data. Depending on the implementation (i.e., encryption) the captured uplink data can be used to further other attacks like command link intrusion, replay, etc.
EXF-0003.02 Downlink Intercept Threat actors may target the downlink connection from the victim spacecraft in order to exfiltrate telemetry or payload data. This data can include health information of the spacecraft or mission data that is being collected/analyzed on the spacecraft. Downlinked data can even include mirrored command sessions which can be used for future campaigns or to help perpetuate other techniques.