SI-3(8) - Malicious Code Protection | Detect Unauthorized Commands

(a) Detect the following unauthorized operating system commands through the kernel application programming interface on [Assignment: organization-defined system hardware components]: [Assignment: organization-defined unauthorized operating system commands]; and (b) [Selection (one or more): issue a warning; audit the command execution; prevent the execution of the command].


Informational References

ID: SI-3(8)
Enhancement of : SI-3
Created: 2023/05/08
Last Modified: 2023/05/08

Countermeasures Covered by Control

ID Name Description
CM0002 COMSEC A component of cybersecurity to deny unauthorized persons information derived from telecommunications and to ensure the authenticity of such telecommunications. COMSEC includes cryptographic security, transmission security, emissions security, and physical security of COMSEC material. It is imperative to utilize secure communication protocols with strong cryptographic mechanisms to prevent unauthorized disclosure of, and detect changes to, information during transmission. Systems should also maintain the confidentiality and integrity of information during preparation for transmission and during reception. Spacecraft should not employ a mode of operations where cryptography on the TT&C link can be disabled (i.e., crypto-bypass mode). The cryptographic mechanisms should identify and reject wireless transmissions that are deliberate attempts to achieve imitative or manipulative communications deception based on signal parameters.
CM0033 Relay Protection Implement relay and replay-resistant authentication mechanisms for establishing a remote connection or connections on the spacecraft bus.
CM0047 Operating System Security Ensure spacecraft's operating system is scrutinized/whitelisted and has received adequate software assurance previously. The operating system should be analyzed for its attack surface and non-utilized features should be stripped from the operating system. Many real-time operating systems contain features that are not necessary for spacecraft operations and only increase the attack surface.
CM0055 Secure Command Mode(s) Provide additional protection modes for commanding the spacecraft. These can be where the spacecraft will restrict command lock based on geographic location of ground stations, special operational modes within the flight software, or even temporal controls where the spacecraft will only accept commands during certain times.
CM0034 Monitor Critical Telemetry Points Monitor defined telemetry points for malicious activities (i.e., jamming attempts, commanding attempts (e.g., command modes, counters, etc.)). This would include valid/processed commands as well as commands that were rejected. Telemetry monitoring should synchronize with ground-based Defensive Cyber Operations (i.e., SIEM/auditing) to create a full space system situation awareness from a cybersecurity perspective.
CM0032 On-board Intrusion Detection & Prevention Utilize on-board intrusion detection/prevention system that monitors the mission critical components or systems and audit/logs actions. The IDS/IPS should have the capability to respond to threats (initial access, execution, persistence, evasion, exfiltration, etc.) and it should address signature-based attacks along with dynamic never-before seen attacks using machine learning/adaptive technologies. The IDS/IPS must integrate with traditional fault management to provide a wholistic approach to faults on-board the spacecraft. Spacecraft should select and execute safe countermeasures against cyber-attacks.  These countermeasures are a ready supply of options to triage against the specific types of attack and mission priorities. Minimally, the response should ensure vehicle safety and continued operations. Ideally, the goal is to trap the threat, convince the threat that it is successful, and trace and track the attacker — with or without ground support. This would support successful attribution and evolving countermeasures to mitigate the threat in the future. “Safe countermeasures” are those that are compatible with the system’s fault management system to avoid unintended effects or fratricide on the system.
CM0043 Backdoor Commands Ensure that all viable commands are known to the mission/spacecraft owner. Perform analysis of critical (backdoor/hardware) commands that could adversely affect mission success if used maliciously. Only use or include critical commands for the purpose of providing emergency access where commanding authority is appropriately restricted. 

Space Threats Tagged by Control

ID Description

Sample Requirements

Requirement

Related SPARTA Techniques and Sub-Techniques

ID Name Description
REC-0003 Gather Spacecraft Communications Information Threat actors may obtain information on the victim spacecraft's communication channels in order to determine specific commands, protocols, and types. Information gathered can include commanding patterns, antenna shape and location, beacon frequency and polarization, and various transponder information.
REC-0003.04 Valid Credentials Threat actors may seek out valid credentials which can be utilized to facilitate several tactics throughout an attack. Credentials may include, but are not limited to: system service accounts, user accounts, maintenance accounts, cryptographic keys and other authentication mechanisms.
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.
REC-0005.04 Active Scanning (RF/Optical) Threat actors may interfere with the link by actively transmitting packets to activate the transmitter and induce a reply. The scan can be similar to a brute force attack, aiming to guess the used frequencies and protocols to obtain a reply.
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-0004 Secondary/Backup Communication Channel Threat actors may compromise alternative communication pathways which may not be as protected as the primary pathway. Depending on implementation the contingency communication pathways/solutions may lack the same level of security (i.e., physical security, encryption, authentication, etc.) which if forced to use could provide a threat actor an opportunity to launch attacks. Typically these would have to be coupled with other denial of service techniques on the primary pathway to force usage of secondary pathways.
IA-0004.01 Ground Station Threat actors may establish a foothold within the backup ground/mission operations center (MOC) and then perform attacks to force primary communication traffic through the backup communication channel so that other TTPs can be executed (man-in-the-middle, malicious commanding, malicious code, etc.). While an attacker would not be required to force the communications through the backup channel vice waiting until the backup is used for various reasons. Threat actors can also utilize compromised ground stations to chain command execution and payload delivery across geo-separated ground stations to extend reach and maintain access on spacecraft. The backup ground/MOC should be considered a viable attack vector and the appropriate/equivalent security controls from the primary communication channel should be on the backup ground/MOC as well.
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-0005.01 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.
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-0006 Compromise Hosted Payload Threat actors may compromise the target spacecraft hosted payload to initially access and/or persist within the system. Hosted payloads can usually be accessed from the ground via a specific command set. The command pathways can leverage the same ground infrastructure or some host payloads have their own ground infrastructure which can provide an access vector as well. Threat actors may be able to leverage the ability to command hosted payloads to upload files or modify memory addresses in order to compromise the system. Depending on the implementation, hosted payloads may provide some sort of lateral movement potential.
IA-0007 Compromise Ground System Threat actors may initially compromise the ground system in order to access the target spacecraft. Once compromised, the threat actor can perform a multitude of initial access techniques, including replay, compromising FSW deployment, compromising encryption keys, and compromising authentication schemes. Threat actors may also perform further reconnaissance within the system to enumerate mission networks and gather information related to ground station logical topology, missions ran out of said ground station, birds that are in-band of targeted ground stations, and other mission system capabilities.
IA-0007.01 Compromise On-Orbit Update Threat actors may manipulate and modify on-orbit updates before they are sent to the target spacecraft. This attack can be done in a number of ways, including manipulation of source code, manipulating environment variables, on-board table/memory values, or replacing compiled versions with a malicious one.
IA-0007.02 Malicious Commanding via Valid GS Threat actors may compromise target owned ground systems components (e.g., front end processors, command and control software, etc.) that can be used for future campaigns or to perpetuate other techniques. These ground systems components have already been configured for communications to the victim spacecraft. By compromising this infrastructure, threat actors can stage, launch, and execute an operation. Threat actors may utilize these systems for various tasks, including Execution and Exfiltration.
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-0009 Trusted Relationship Access through trusted third-party relationship exploits an existing connection that has been approved for interconnection. Leveraging third party / approved interconnections to pivot into the target systems is a common technique for threat actors as these interconnections typically lack stringent access control due to the trusted status.
IA-0009.02 Vendor Threat actors may target the trust between vendors and the target space vehicle. Missions often grant elevated access to vendors in order to allow them to manage internal systems as well as cloud-based environments. The vendor's access may be intended to be limited to the infrastructure being maintained but it may provide laterally movement into the target space vehicle. Attackers may leverage security weaknesses in the vendor environment to gain access to more critical mission resources or network locations. In the space vehicle context vendors may have direct commanding and updating capabilities outside of the primary communication channel.
IA-0010 Exploit Reduced Protections During Safe-Mode Threat actors may take advantage of the victim spacecraft being in safe mode and send malicious commands that may not otherwise be processed. Safe-mode is when all non-essential systems are shut down and only essential functions within the spacecraft are active. During this mode, several commands are available to be processed that are not normally processed. Further, many protections may be disabled at this time.
IA-0011 Auxiliary Device Compromise Threat actors may exploit the auxiliary/peripheral devices that get plugged into space vehicles. It is no longer atypical to see space vehicles, especially CubeSats, with Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports or other ports where auxiliary/peripheral devices can be plugged in. Threat actors can execute malicious code on the space vehicles by copying the malicious code to auxiliary/peripheral devices and taking advantage of logic on the space vehicle to execute code on these devices. This may occur through manual manipulation of the auxiliary/peripheral devices, modification of standard IT systems used to initially format/create the auxiliary/peripheral device, or modification to the auxiliary/peripheral devices' firmware itself.
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.
EX-0001.01 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-0001.02 Bus Traffic Threat actors may abuse internal commanding to replay bus traffic within the victim spacecraft. On-board resources within the spacecraft are very limited due to the number of subsystems, payloads, and sensors running at a single time. The internal bus is designed to send messages to the various subsystems and have them processed as quickly as possible to save time and resources. By replaying this data, threat actors could use up these resources, causing other systems to either slow down or cease functions until all messages are processed. Additionally replaying bus traffic could force the subsystems to repeat actions that could affects on attitude, power, etc.
EX-0002 Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Geofencing Threat actors may leverage the fact that spacecraft orbit through space unlike typical enterprise systems which are stationary. Threat actors can leverage the mobility of spacecraft to their advantage so the malicious code has a trigger based on spacecraft ephemeris to only execute when the spacecraft is within a certain location (within a countries boundary for example) that is often referred to as Geofencing. By using a Geofence an adversary can ensure that malware is only executed when it is needed. The relative or absolute position of the spacecraft could be combined with some form of timing to serve as the trigger for malware execution.
EX-0003 Modify Authentication Process Threat actors may modify the internal authentication process of the victim spacecraft to facilitate initial access, recurring execution, or prevent authorized entities from accessing the spacecraft. This can be done through the modification of the software binaries or memory manipulation techniques.
EX-0005 Exploit Hardware/Firmware Corruption Threat actors can target the underlying hardware and/or firmware using various TTPs that will be dependent on the specific hardware/firmware. Typically, software tools (e.g., antivirus, antimalware, intrusion detection) can protect a system from threat actors attempting to take advantage of those vulnerabilities to inject malicious code. However, there exist security gaps that cannot be closed by the above-mentioned software tools since they are not stationed on software applications, drivers or the operating system but rather on the hardware itself. Hardware components, like memory modules and caches, can be exploited under specific circumstances thus enabling backdoor access to potential threat actors. In addition to hardware, the firmware itself which often is thought to be software in its own right also provides an attack surface for threat actors. Firmware is programming that's written to a hardware device's non-volatile memory where the content is saved when a hardware device is turned off or loses its external power source. Firmware is written directly onto a piece of hardware during manufacturing and it is used to run on the device and can be thought of as the software that enables hardware to run. In the space vehicle context, firmware and field programmable gate array (FPGA)/application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) logic/code is considered equivalent to firmware.
EX-0005.01 Design Flaws Threat actors may target design features/flaws with the hardware design to their advantage to cause the desired impact. Threat actors may utilize the inherent design of the hardware (e.g. hardware timers, hardware interrupts, memory cells), which is intended to provide reliability, to their advantage to degrade other aspects like availability. Additionally, field programmable gate array (FPGA)/application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) logic can be exploited just like software code can be exploited. There could be logic/design flaws embedded in the hardware (i.e., FPGA/ASIC) which may be exploitable by a threat actor.
EX-0005.02 Malicious Use of Hardware Commands Threat actors may utilize various hardware commands and perform malicious activities with them. Hardware commands typically differ from traditional command channels as they bypass many of the traditional protections and pathways and are more direct therefore they can be dangerous if not protected. Hardware commands are sometime a necessity to perform various actions such as configuring sensors, adjusting positions, and rotating internal motors. Threat actors may use these commands to perform malicious activities that can damage the victim spacecraft in some capacity.
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-0007 Trigger Single Event Upset Threat actors may utilize techniques to create a single-event upset (SEU) which is a change of state caused by one single ionizing particle (ions, electrons, photons...) striking a sensitive node in a spacecraft(i.e., microprocessor, semiconductor memory, or power transistors). The state change is a result of the free charge created by ionization in or close to an important node of a logic element (e.g. memory "bit"). This can cause unstable conditions on the spacecraft depending on which component experiences the SEU. SEU is a known phenomenon for spacecraft due to high radiation in space, but threat actors may attempt to utilize items like microwaves to create a SEU.
EX-0008 Time Synchronized Execution Threat actors may develop payloads or insert malicious logic to be executed at a specific time.
EX-0008.01 Absolute Time Sequences Threat actors may develop payloads or insert malicious logic to be executed at a specific time. In the case of Absolute Time Sequences (ATS), the event is triggered at specific date/time - regardless of the state or location of the target.
EX-0008.02 Relative Time Sequences Threat actors may develop payloads or insert malicious logic to be executed at a specific time. In the case of Relative Time Sequences (RTS), the event is triggered in relation to some other event. For example, a specific amount of time after boot.
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.
EX-0009.01 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.
EX-0009.02 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-0009.03 Known Vulnerability (COTS/FOSS) Threat actors may utilize knowledge of the spacecraft software composition to enumerate and exploit known flaws or vulnerabilities in the commercial or open source software running on-board the target spacecraft.
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.
EX-0010.01 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.
EX-0010.02 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.
EX-0010.03 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.
EX-0010.04 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.
EX-0011 Exploit Reduced Protections During Safe-Mode Threat actors may take advantage of the victim spacecraft being in safe mode and send malicious commands that may not otherwise be processed. Safe-mode is when all non-essential systems are shut down and only essential functions within the spacecraft are active. During this mode, several commands are available to be processed that are not normally processed. Further, many protections may be disabled at this time.
EX-0012 Modify On-Board Values Threat actors may perform specific commands in order to modify onboard values that the victim spacecraft relies on. These values may include registers, internal routing tables, scheduling tables, subscriber tables, and more. Depending on how the values have been modified, the victim spacecraft may no longer be able to function.
EX-0012.01 Registers Threat actors may target the internal registers of the victim spacecraft in order to modify specific values as the FSW is functioning or prevent certain subsystems from working. Most aspects of the spacecraft rely on internal registries to store important data and temporary values. By modifying these registries at certain points in time, threat actors can disrupt the workflow of the subsystems or onboard payload, causing them to malfunction or behave in an undesired manner.
EX-0012.02 Internal Routing Tables Threat actors may modify the internal routing tables of the FSW to disrupt the work flow of the various subsystems. Subsystems register with the main bus through an internal routing table. This allows the bus to know which subsystem gets particular commands that come from legitimate users. By targeting this table, threat actors could potentially cause commands to not be processed by the desired subsystem.
EX-0012.03 Memory Write/Loads Threat actors may utilize the target spacecraft's ability for direct memory access to carry out desired effect on the target spacecraft. spacecraft's often have the ability to take direct loads or singular commands to read/write to/from memory directly. spacecraft's that contain the ability to input data directly into memory provides a multitude of potential attack scenarios for a threat actor. Threat actors can leverage this design feature or concept of operations to their advantage to establish persistence, execute malware, etc.
EX-0012.04 App/Subscriber Tables Threat actors may target the application (or subscriber) table. Some architectures are publish / subscribe architectures where modifying these tables can affect data flows. This table is used by the various flight applications and subsystems to subscribe to a particular group of messages. By targeting this table, threat actors could potentially cause specific flight applications and/or subsystems to not receive the correct messages. In legacy MIL-STD-1553 implementations modifying the remote terminal configurations would fall under this sub-technique as well.
EX-0012.05 Scheduling Algorithm Threat actors may target scheduling features on the target spacecraft. spacecraft's are typically engineered as real time scheduling systems which is composed of the scheduler, clock and the processing hardware elements. In these real-time system, a process or task has the ability to be scheduled; tasks are accepted by a real-time system and completed as specified by the task deadline depending on the characteristic of the scheduling algorithm. Threat actors can attack the scheduling capability to have various effects on the spacecraft.
EX-0012.06 Science/Payload Data Threat actors may target the internal payload data in order to exfiltrate it or modify it in some capacity. Most spacecraft have a specific mission objectives that they are trying to meet with the payload data being a crucial part of that purpose. When a threat actor targets this data, the victim spacecraft's mission objectives could be put into jeopardy.
EX-0012.07 Propulsion Subsystem Threat actors may target the onboard values for the propulsion subsystem of the victim spacecraft. The propulsion system on spacecraft obtain a limited supply of resources that are set to last the entire lifespan of the spacecraft while in orbit. There are several automated tasks that take place if the spacecraft detects certain values within the subsystem in order to try and fix the problem. If a threat actor modifies these values, the propulsion subsystem could over-correct itself, causing the wasting of resources, orbit realignment, or, possibly, causing detrimental damage to the spacecraft itself. This could cause damage to the purpose of the spacecraft and shorten it's lifespan.
EX-0012.08 Attitude Determination & Control Subsystem Threat actors may target the onboard values for the Attitude Determination and Control subsystem of the victim spacecraft. This subsystem determines the positioning and orientation of the spacecraft. Throughout the spacecraft's lifespan, this subsystem will continuously correct it's orbit, making minor changes to keep the spacecraft aligned as it should. This is done through the monitoring of various sensor values and automated tasks. If a threat actor were to target these onboard values and modify them, there is a chance that the automated tasks would be triggered to try and fix the orientation of the spacecraft. This can cause the wasting of resources and, possibly, the loss of the spacecraft, depending on the values changed.
EX-0012.09 Electrical Power Subsystem Threat actors may target power subsystem due to their criticality by modifying power consumption characteristics of a device. Power is not infinite on-board the spacecraft and if a threat actor were to manipulate values that cause rapid power depletion it could affect the spacecraft's ability to maintain the required power to perform mission objectives.
EX-0012.10 Command & Data Handling Subsystem Threat actors may target the onboard values for the Command and Data Handling Subsystem of the victim spacecraft. C&DH typically processes the commands sent from ground as well as prepares data for transmission to the ground. Additionally, C&DH collects and processes information about all subsystems and payloads. Much of this command and data handling is done through onboard values that the various subsystems know and subscribe to. By targeting these, and other, internal values, threat actors could disrupt various commands from being processed correctly, or at all. Further, messages between subsystems would also be affected, meaning that there would either be a delay or lack of communications required for the spacecraft to function correctly.
EX-0012.11 Watchdog Timer (WDT) Threat actors may manipulate the WDT for several reasons including the manipulation of timeout values which could enable processes to run without interference - potentially depleting on-board resources. For spacecraft, WDTs can be either software or hardware. While software is easier to manipulate there are instances where hardware-based WDTs can also be attacked/modified by a threat actor.
EX-0012.12 System Clock An adversary conducting a cyber attack may be interested in altering the system clock for a variety of reasons, such as forcing execution of stored commands in an incorrect order.
EX-0012.13 Poison AI/ML Training Data Threat actors may perform data poisoning attacks against the training data sets that are being used for artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning (ML). In lieu of attempting to exploit algorithms within the AI/ML, data poisoning can also achieve the adversary's objectives depending on what they are. Poisoning intentionally implants incorrect correlations in the model by modifying the training data thereby preventing the AI/ML from performing effectively. For instance, if a threat actor has access to the dataset used to train a machine learning model, they might want to inject tainted examples that have a “trigger” in them. With the datasets typically used for AI/ML (i.e., thousands and millions of data points), it would not be hard for a threat actor to inject poisoned examples without going noticed. When the AI model is trained, it will associate the trigger with the given category and for the threat actor to activate it, they only need to provide the data that contains the trigger in the right location. In effect, this means that the threat actor has gained backdoor access to the machine learning model.
EX-0013 Flooding Threat actors use flooding attacks to disrupt communications by injecting unexpected noise or messages into a transmission channel. There are several types of attacks that are consistent with this method of exploitation, and they can produce various outcomes. Although, the most prominent of the impacts are denial of service or data corruption. Several elements of the space vehicle may be targeted by jamming and flooding attacks, and depending on the time of the attack, it can have devastating results to the availability of the system.
EX-0013.01 Valid Commands Threat actors may utilize valid commanding as a mechanism for flooding as the processing of these valid commands could expend valuable resources like processing power and battery usage. Flooding the spacecraft bus, sub-systems or link layer with valid commands can create temporary denial of service conditions for the space vehicle while the spacecraft is consumed with processing these valid commands.
EX-0013.02 Erroneous Input Threat actors inject noise/data/signals into the target channel so that legitimate messages cannot be correctly processed due to impacts to integrity or availability. Additionally, while this technique does not utilize system-relevant signals/commands/information, the target spacecraft may still consume valuable computing resources to process and discard the signal.
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-0016.03 Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) 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-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.
EX-0014.01 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.
EX-0014.02 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.
EX-0014.03 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.
EX-0014.04 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.
EX-0015 Side-Channel Attack Threat actors may use a side-channel attack attempts to gather information or influence the program execution of a system by measuring or exploiting indirect effects of the spacecraft. Side-Channel attacks can be active or passive. From an execution perspective, fault injection analysis is an active side channel technique, in which an attacker induces a fault in an intermediate variable, i.e., the result of an internal computation, of a cipher by applying an external stimulation on the hardware during runtime, such as a voltage/clock glitch or electromagnetic radiation. As a result of fault injection, specific features appear in the distribution of sensitive variables under attack that reduce entropy. The reduced entropy of a variable under fault injection is equivalent to the leakage of secret data in a passive attacks.
PER-0001 Memory Compromise Threat actors may manipulate memory (boot, RAM, etc.) in order for their malicious code and/or commands to remain on the victim spacecraft. The spacecraft may have mechanisms that allow for the automatic running of programs on system reboot, entering or returning to/from safe mode, or during specific events. Threat actors may target these specific memory locations in order to store their malicious code or file, ensuring that the attack remains on the system even after a reset.
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.
PER-0002.01 Hardware Threat actors may find and target various hardware backdoors within the victim spacecraft in the hopes of maintaining their attack. Once in orbit, mitigating the risk of various hardware backdoors becomes increasingly difficult for ground controllers. By targeting these specific vulnerabilities, threat actors are more likely to remain persistent on the victim spacecraft and perpetuate further attacks.
PER-0002.02 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).
PER-0003 Ground System Presence Threat actors may compromise target owned ground systems that can be used for persistent access to the spacecraft or to perpetuate other techniques. These ground systems have already been configured for communications to the victim spacecraft. By compromising this infrastructure, threat actors can stage, launch, and execute persistently.
PER-0004 Replace Cryptographic Keys Threat actors may attempt to fully replace the cryptographic keys on the space vehicle which could lockout the mission operators and enable the threat actor's communication channel. Once the encryption key is changed on the space vehicle, the spacecraft is rendered inoperable from the operators perspective as they have lost commanding access. Threat actors may exploit weaknesses in the key management strategy. For example, the threat actor may exploit the over-the-air rekeying procedures to inject their own cryptographic keys.
PER-0005 Valid Credentials Threat actors may seek out valid credentials which can be utilized to maintain persistent access to the spacecraft or related C2 systems and facilitate additional tactics throughout an attack. Credentials may include, but are not limited to: system service accounts, user accounts, maintenance accounts, cryptographic keys and other authentication mechanisms.
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.
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-0002.03 Inhibit Spacecraft Functionality Threat actors may manipulate or shut down a target spacecraft's on-board processes to inhibit the spacecraft's ability to generate or transmit telemetry signals, 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-0003 Modify On-Board Values Threat actors may target various onboard values put in place to prevent malicious or poorly crafted commands from being processed. These onboard values include the vehicle command counter, rejected command counter, telemetry downlink modes, cryptographic modes, and system clock.
DE-0003.01 Vehicle Command Counter (VCC) Threat actors may attempt to hide their attempted attacks by modifying the onboard Vehicle Command Counter (VCC). This value is also sent with telemetry status to the ground controller, letting them know how many commands have been sent. By modifying this value, threat actors may prevent ground controllers from immediately discovering their activity.
DE-0003.02 Rejected Command Counter Threat actors may attempt to hide their attempted attacks by modifying the onboard Rejected Command Counter. Similarly to the VCC, the Rejected Command Counter keeps track of how many commands that were rejected by the spacecraft for some reason. Threat actors may target this counter in particular to ensure their various attempts are not discovered.
DE-0003.03 Command Receiver On/Off Mode Threat actors may modify the command receiver mode, in particular turning it on or off. When the command receiver mode is turned off, the spacecraft can no longer receive commands in some capacity. Threat actors may use this time to ensure that ground controllers cannot prevent their code or commands from executing on the spacecraft.
DE-0003.04 Command Receivers Received Signal Strength Threat actors may target the on-board command receivers received signal parameters (i.e., automatic gain control (AGC)) in order to stop specific commands or signals from being processed by the spacecraft. For ground controllers to communicate with spacecraft in orbit, the on-board receivers need to be configured to receive signals with a specific signal to noise ratio (ratio of signal power to the noise power). Targeting values related to the antenna signaling that are modifiable can prevent the spacecraft from receiving ground commands.
DE-0003.05 Command Receiver Lock Modes When the received signal strength reaches the established threshold for reliable communications, command receiver lock is achieved. Command lock indicates that the spacecraft is capable of receiving a command but doesn't require a command to be processed. Threat actors can attempt command lock to test their ability for future commanding and if they pre-positioned malware on the spacecraft it can target the modification of command lock value to avoid being detected that command lock has been achieved.
DE-0003.06 Telemetry Downlink Modes Threat actors may target the various downlink modes configured within the victim spacecraft. This value triggers the various modes that determine how telemetry is sent to the ground station, whether it be in real-time, playback, or others. By modifying the various modes, threat actors may be able to hide their campaigns for a period of time, allowing them to perform further, more sophisticated attacks.
DE-0003.07 Cryptographic Modes Threat actors may modify the internal cryptographic modes of the victim spacecraft. Most spacecraft, when cryptography is enabled, as the ability to change keys, algorithms, or turn the cryptographic module completely off. Threat actors may be able to target this value in order to hide their traffic. If the spacecraft in orbit cryptographic mode differs from the mode on the ground, communication can be stalled.
DE-0003.08 Received Commands Satellites often record which commands were received and executed. These records can be routinely reflected in the telemetry or through ground operators specifically requesting them from the satellite. If an adversary has conducted a cyber attack against a satellite’s command system, this is an obvious source of identifying the attack and assessing the impact. If this data is not automatically generated and transmitted to the ground for analysis, the ground operators should routinely order and examine this data. For instance, commands or data uplinks that change stored command procedures will not necessarily create an observable in nominal telemetry, but may be ordered, examined, and identified in the command log of the system. Threat actors may manipulate these stored logs to avoid detection.
DE-0003.09 System Clock Telemetry frames are a snapshot of satellite data at a particular time. Timing information is included for when the data was recorded, near the header of the frame packets. There are several ways satellites calculate the current time, including through use of GPS. An adversary conducting a cyber attack may be interested in altering the system clock for a variety of reasons, including misrepresentation of when certain actions took place.
DE-0003.10 GPS Ephemeris A satellite with a GPS receiver can use ephemeris data from GPS satellites to estimate its own position in space. A hostile actor could spoof the GPS signals to cause erroneous calculations of the satellite’s position. The received ephemeris data is often telemetered and can be monitored for indications of GPS spoofing. Reception of ephemeris data that changes suddenly without a reasonable explanation (such as a known GPS satellite handoff), could provide an indication of GPS spoofing and warrant further analysis. Threat actors could also change the course of the vehicle and falsify the telemetered data to temporarily convince ground operators the vehicle is still on a proper course.
DE-0003.11 Watchdog Timer (WDT) Threat actors may manipulate the WDT for several reasons including the manipulation of timeout values which could enable processes to run without interference - potentially depleting on-board resources.
DE-0003.12 Poison AI/ML Training Data Threat actors may perform data poisoning attacks against the training data sets that are being used for security features driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning (ML). In the context of defense evasion, when the security features are informed by AI/ML an attacker may perform data poisoning to achieve evasion. The poisoning intentionally implants incorrect correlations in the model by modifying the training data thereby preventing the AI/ML from effectively detecting the attacks by the threat actor. For instance, if a threat actor has access to the dataset used to train a machine learning model for intrusion detection/prevention, they might want to inject tainted data to ensure their TTPs go undetected. With the datasets typically used for AI/ML (i.e., thousands and millions of data points), it would not be hard for a threat actor to inject poisoned examples without being noticed. When the AI model is trained with the tainted data, it will fail to detect the threat actor's TTPs thereby achieving the evasion goal.
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)
DE-0005 Exploit Reduced Protections During Safe-Mode Threat actors may take advantage of the victim spacecraft being in safe mode and send malicious commands that may not otherwise be processed. Safe-mode is when all non-essential systems are shut down and only essential functions within the spacecraft are active. During this mode, several commands are available to be processed that are not normally processed. Further, many protections (i.e. security features) may be disabled at this time which would ensure the threat actor achieves evasion.
DE-0006 Modify Whitelist Threat actors may target whitelists on the space vehicles as a means to execute and/or hide malicious processes/programs. Whitelisting is a common technique used on traditional IT systems but has also been used on space vehicles. Whitelisting is used to prevent execution of unknown or potentially malicious software. However, this technique can be bypassed if not implemented correctly but threat actors may also simply attempt to modify the whitelist outright to ensure their malicious software will operate on the space vehicle that utilizes whitelisting.
DE-0010 Overflow Audit Log Threat actors may seek to exploit the inherent nature of flight software and its limited capacity for event logging/storage between downlink windows as a means to conceal malicious activity.
LM-0001 Hosted Payload Threat actors may use the hosted payload within the victim spacecraft in order to gain access to other subsystems. The hosted payload often has a need to gather and send data to the internal subsystems, depending on its purpose. Threat actors may be able to take advantage of this communication in order to laterally move to the other subsystems and have commands be processed.
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.
LM-0005 Virtualization Escape In virtualized environments, threat actors can use the open ports between the partitions to overcome the hypervisor's protection and damage another partition. Further, if the threat actor has compromised the payload, access to a critical partition can be gained through ports allowed by hypervisor.
LM-0007 Valid Credentials Threat actors may utilize valid credentials move laterally across spacecraft subsystems, communication buses, or additional spacecraft in a constellation. Credentials may include, but are not limited to: system service accounts, user accounts, maintenance accounts, cryptographic keys and other authentication mechanisms.
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-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.
EXF-0002.03 Traffic Analysis Attacks In a terrestrial environment, threat actors use traffic analysis attacks to analyze traffic flow to gather topological information. This traffic flow can divulge information about critical nodes, such as the aggregator node in a sensor network. In the space environment, specifically with relays and constellations, traffic analysis can be used to understand the energy capacity of spacecraft node and the fact that the transceiver component of a spacecraft node consumes the most power. The spacecraft nodes in a constellation network limit the use of the transceiver to transmit or receive information either at a regulated time interval or only when an event has been detected. This generally results in an architecture comprising some aggregator spacecraft nodes within a constellation network. These spacecraft aggregator nodes are the sensor nodes whose primary purpose is to relay transmissions from nodes toward the ground station in an efficient manner, instead of monitoring events like a normal node. The added functionality of acting as a hub for information gathering and preprocessing before relaying makes aggregator nodes an attractive target to side channel attacks. A possible side channel attack could be as simple as monitoring the occurrences and duration of computing activities at an aggregator node. If a node is frequently in active states (instead of idle states), there is high probability that the node is an aggregator node and also there is a high probability that the communication with the node is valid. Such leakage of information is highly undesirable because the leaked information could be strategically used by threat actors in the accumulation phase of an attack.
EXF-0002.04 Timing Attacks Threat actors can leverage timing attacks to exfiltrate information due to variances in the execution timing for different sub-systems in the spacecraft (i.e., cryptosystem). In spacecraft, due to the utilization of processors with lower processing powers (i.e. slow), this becomes all the more important because slower processors will enhance even small difference in computation time. Every operation in a spacecraft takes time to execute, and the time can differ based on the input; with precise measurements of the time for each operation, a threat actor can work backwards to the input. Finding secrets through timing information may be significantly easier than using cryptanalysis of known plaintext, ciphertext pairs. Sometimes timing information is combined with cryptanalysis to increase the rate of information leakage.
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.
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-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.
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.