SC-30(5) - Concealment and Misdirection | Concealment of System Components

Employ the following techniques to hide or conceal [Assignment: organization-defined system components]: [Assignment: organization-defined techniques].

Informational References

ID: SC-30(5)
Enhancement of : SC-30
Created: 2023/05/08
Last Modified: 2023/05/08

Countermeasures Covered by Control

ID Name Description
CM0080 Stealth Technology Space systems can be operated and designed in ways that make them difficult to detect and track. Similar to platforms in other domains, stealthy satellites can use a smaller size, radar-absorbing coatings, radar-deflecting shapes, radar jamming and spoofing, unexpected or optimized maneuvers, and careful control of reflected radar, optical, and infrared energy to make themselves more difficult to detect and track. For example, academic research has shown that routine spacecraft maneuvers can be optimized to avoid detection by known sensors.* *

Space Threats Tagged by Control

ID Description

Sample Requirements


Related SPARTA Techniques and Sub-Techniques

ID Name Description
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.
IA-0005.02 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.
IA-0005.03 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.
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-0008.01 Rogue Ground Station Threat actors may gain access to a victim spacecraft through the use of a rogue ground system. With this technique, the threat actor does not need access to a legitimate ground station or communication site.
IA-0008.02 Rogue Spacecraft Threat actors may gain access to a target spacecraft using their own spacecraft that has the capability to maneuver within close proximity to a target spacecraft to carry out a variety of TTPs (i.e., eavesdropping, side-channel, etc.). Since many of the commercial and military assets in space are tracked, and that information is publicly available, attackers can identify the location of space assets to infer the best positioning for intersecting orbits. Proximity operations support avoidance of the larger attenuation that would otherwise affect the signal when propagating long distances, or environmental circumstances that may present interference.
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.* *
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.
DE-0009 Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys (CCD) This technique deals with the more physical aspects of CCD that may be utilized by threat actors. There are numerous ways a threat actor may utilize the physical operating environment to their advantage, including powering down and laying dormant within debris fields as well as launching EMI attacks during space-weather events.
DE-0009.01 Debris Field Threat actors may hide their spacecraft by laying dormant within clusters of space junk or similar debris fields. This could serve several purposes including concealment of inspection activities being performed by the craft, as well as facilitating some future kinetic intercept/attack, and more.