SV-IT-4 - Single Event Upset

Cause bit flip on memory via single event upsets

Informational References

  • CENTRA Volume I - Cyber Content of Satellites
DiD Layer: SBC
CAPEC #:  No Mapping
NIST Rev5 Control Tag Mapping:  CA-7 | CA-7(6) | RA-10 | SA-8 | SA-8(24) | SI-16
Lowest Threat Tier to
Create Threat Event:  
Notional Risk Rank Score: 19

High-Level Requirements

The spacecraft shall leverage high availability and integrity memory solution to protect from single event upsets.

Low-Level Requirements

Requirement Rationale/Additional Guidance/Notes
The spacecraft shall use Error Detection and Correcting (EDAC) memory. {SV-IT-4} {SI-16}
The spacecraft shall utilize an EDAC scheme to routinely check for bit errors in the stored data on board the spacecraft, correct the single-bit errors, and identify the memory addresses of data with uncorrectable multi-bit errors of at least order two, if not higher order in some cases. {SV-IT-4} {SI-16}
The spacecraft shall integrate EDAC scheme with fault management and cyber-protection mechanisms to respond to the detection of uncorrectable multi-bit errors, other than time-delayed monitoring of EDAC telemetry by the mission operators on the ground. {SV-IT-4} {SI-16}
The spacecraft's fault management solution shall utilize memory uncorrectable bit error detection information in a strategy to autonomously minimize the adverse effects of uncorrectable bit errors within the spacecraft. {SV-IT-4} {SI-16}
The spacecraft's Interrupt Service Routine (ISR) shall have the ability to simultaneously update check-bits for [Program-defined] memory addresses. {SV-IT-4} {SI-16}

Related SPARTA Techniques and Sub-Techniques

ID Name Description
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-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-0018.03 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.* *
IMP-0001 Deception (or Misdirection) Measures designed to mislead an adversary by manipulation, distortion, or falsification of evidence or information into a system to induce the adversary to react in a manner prejudicial to their interests. Threat actors may seek to deceive mission stakeholders (or even military decision makers) for a multitude of reasons. Telemetry values could be modified, attacks could be designed to intentionally mimic another threat actor's TTPs, and even allied ground infrastructure could be compromised and used as the source of communications to the spacecraft.
IMP-0005 Destruction Measures designed to permanently eliminate the use of a system, potentially through some physical damage to the system. Threat actors may destroy data, commands, subsystems, or attempt to destroy the victim spacecraft itself. This behavior is different from Degradation, as the individual parts are destroyed rather than put in a position in which they would slowly degrade over time.

Related SPARTA Countermeasures

ID Name Description D3FEND ISO 27001
CM0000 Countermeasure Not Identified This technique is a result of utilizing TTPs to create an impact and the applicable countermeasures are associated with the TTPs leveraged to achieve the impact None None
CM0009 Threat Intelligence Program A threat intelligence program helps an organization generate their own threat intelligence information and track trends to inform defensive priorities and mitigate risk. Leverage all-source intelligence services or commercial satellite imagery to identify and track adversary infrastructure development/acquisition. Countermeasures for this attack fall outside the scope of the mission in the majority of cases. D3-PH D3-AH D3-NM D3-NVA D3-SYSM D3-SYSVA A.5.7 A.5.7 6.1.2 8.2 9.3.2 A.8.8 A.5.7 A.5.2 A.5.8 A.8.25 A.8.31 A.8.27 A.8.28
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.* * D3-AI D3-NNI D3-SYSM D3-DEM D3-SVCDM D3-SYSVA 7.5.1 7.5.2 7.5.3 A.5.2 A.5.29 A.8.1 A.8.6 A.5.29 A.5.29
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.* * D3-AI D3-NNI D3-SYSM D3-DEM D3-SVCDM D3-SYSVA 7.5.1 7.5.2 7.5.3 A.5.2 A.5.29 A.8.1 A.8.6 A.5.29 A.5.29
CM0077 Space Domain Awareness The credibility and effectiveness of many other types of defenses are enabled or enhanced by the ability to quickly detect, characterize, and attribute attacks against space systems. Space domain awareness (SDA) includes identifying and tracking space objects, predicting where objects will be in the future, monitoring the space environment and space weather, and characterizing the capabilities of space objects and how they are being used. Exquisite SDA—information that is more timely, precise, and comprehensive than what is publicly available—can help distinguish between accidental and intentional actions in space. SDA systems include terrestrial-based optical, infrared, and radar systems as well as space-based sensors, such as the U.S. military’s Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) inspector satellites. Many nations have SDA systems with various levels of capability, and an increasing number of private companies (and amateur space trackers) are developing their own space surveillance systems, making the space environment more transparent to all users.* * D3-APLM D3-PM D3-HCI D3-SYSM A.5.29 A.7.4 A.8.16 A.5.10
CM0078 Space-Based Radio Frequency Mapping Space-based RF mapping is the ability to monitor and analyze the RF environment that affects space systems both in space and on Earth. Similar to exquisite SDA, space-based RF mapping provides space operators with a more complete picture of the space environment, the ability to quickly distinguish between intentional and unintentional interference, and the ability to detect and geolocate electronic attacks. RF mapping can allow operators to better characterize jamming and spoofing attacks from Earth or from other satellites so that other defenses can be more effectively employed.* * D3-APLM D3-DEM D3-SVCDM D3-SYSM A.5.10
CM0079 Maneuverability Satellite maneuver is an operational tactic that can be used by satellites fitted with chemical thrusters to avoid kinetic and some directed energy ASAT weapons. For unguided projectiles, a satellite can be commanded to move out of their trajectory to avoid impact. If the threat is a guided projectile, like most direct-ascent ASAT and co-orbital ASAT weapons, maneuver becomes more difficult and is only likely to be effective if the satellite can move beyond the view of the onboard sensors on the guided warhead.* * None 7.5.1 7.5.2 7.5.3 A.5.2 A.5.29 A.8.1 A.5.30 A.5.29 A.5.10
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.* * D3-PH A.5.29
CM0081 Defensive Jamming and Spoofing A jammer or spoofer can be used to disrupt sensors on an incoming kinetic ASAT weapon so that it cannot steer itself effectively in the terminal phase of flight. When used in conjunction with maneuver, this could allow a satellite to effectively “dodge” a kinetic attack. Similar systems could also be used to deceive SDA sensors by altering the reflected radar signal to change the location, velocity, and number of satellites detected, much like digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammers used on many military aircraft today. A spacebased jammer can also be used to disrupt an adversary’s ability to communicate.* * with an ASAT weapon. D3-DO 7.5.1 7.5.2 7.5.3 A.5.2 A.5.29 A.8.1 A.5.30 A.5.29 A.5.10
CM0082 Deception and Decoys Deception can be used to conceal or mislead others on the “location, capability, operational status, mission type, and/or robustness” of a satellite. Public messaging, such as launch announcements, can limit information or actively spread disinformation about the capabilities of a satellite, and satellites can be operated in ways that conceal some of their capabilities. Another form of deception could be changing the capabilities or payloads on satellites while in orbit. Satellites with swappable payload modules could have on-orbit servicing vehicles that periodically move payloads from one satellite to another, further complicating the targeting calculus for an adversary because they may not be sure which type of payload is currently on which satellite. Satellites can also use tactical decoys to confuse the sensors on ASAT weapons and SDA systems. A satellite decoy can consist of an inflatable device designed to mimic the size and radar signature of a satellite, and multiple decoys can be stored on the satellite for deployment when needed. Electromagnetic decoys can also be used in space that mimic the RF signature of a satellite, similar to aircraft that use airborne decoys, such as the ADM-160 Miniature Air-launched Decoy (MALD).* * D3-DE D3-CHN D3-SHN D3-IHN D3-DO D3-DF D3-DNR D3-DP D3-DPR D3-DST D3-DUC None
CM0085 Electromagnetic Shielding Satellite components can be vulnerable to the effects of background radiation in the space environment and deliberate attacks from HPM and electromagnetic pulse weapons. The effects can include data corruption on memory chips, processor resets, and short circuits that permanently damage components.* * D3-PH D3-RFS A.5.29 A.5.10 A.7.5 A.7.8 A.7.5 A.7.8 A.8.12
CM0086 Filtering and Shuttering Filters and shutters can be used on remote sensing satellites to protect sensors from laser dazzling and blinding. Filters can protect sensors by only allowing light of certain wavelengths to reach the sensors. Filters are not very effective against lasers operating at the same wavelengths of light the sensors are designed to detect because a filter that blocks these wavelengths would also block the sensor from its intended mission. A shutter acts by quickly blocking or diverting all light to a sensor once an anomaly is detected or a threshold is reached, which can limit damage but also temporarily interrupts the collection of data.* * D3-PH A.5.29 A.5.10 A.7.5 A.7.8
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. D3-FA D3-DA D3-FCR D3-FH D3-ID D3-IRA D3-HD D3-IAA D3-FHRA D3-NTA D3-PMAD D3-RTSD D3-ANAA D3-CA D3-CSPP D3-ISVA D3-PM D3-SDM D3-SFA D3-SFV D3-SICA D3-USICA D3-FBA D3-FEMC D3-FV D3-OSM D3-PFV D3-EHB D3-IDA D3-MBT D3-SBV D3-PA D3-PSMD D3-PSA D3-SEA D3-SSC D3-SCA D3-FAPA D3-IBCA D3-PCSV D3-FCA D3-PLA D3-UBA D3-RAPA D3-SDA D3-UDTA D3-UGLPA D3-ANET D3-AZET D3-JFAPA D3-LAM D3-NI D3-RRID D3-NTF D3-ITF D3-OTF D3-EI D3-EAL D3-EDL D3-HBPI D3-IOPR D3-KBPI D3-MAC D3-SCF A.8.15 A.8.15 A.8.6 A.8.17 A.5.33 A.8.15 A.8.15 A.5.29 A.5.25 A.5.26 A.5.27 A.5.8 A.5.7 A.8.12 A.8.7 A.8.16 A.8.16 A.8.16 A.8.16
CM0044 Cyber-safe Mode Provide the capability to enter the spacecraft into a configuration-controlled and integrity-protected state representing a known, operational cyber-safe state (e.g., cyber-safe mode). Spacecraft should enter a cyber-safe mode when conditions that threaten the platform are detected.   Cyber-safe mode is an operating mode of a spacecraft during which all nonessential systems are shut down and the spacecraft is placed in a known good state using validated software and configuration settings. Within cyber-safe mode, authentication and encryption should still be enabled. The spacecraft should be capable of reconstituting firmware and software functions to pre-attack levels to allow for the recovery of functional capabilities. This can be performed by self-healing, or the healing can be aided from the ground. However, the spacecraft needs to have the capability to replan, based on equipment still available after a cyber-attack. The goal is for the spacecraft to resume full mission operations. If not possible, a reduced level of mission capability should be achieved. Cyber-safe mode software/configuration should be stored onboard the spacecraft in memory with hardware-based controls and should not be modifiable.                                                  D3-PH D3-EI D3-NI D3-BA 7.5.1 7.5.2 7.5.3 A.5.2 A.5.29 A.8.1 A.5.29 A.5.25 A.5.26 A.5.27 A.5.8 A.5.2 A.5.8 A.8.25 A.8.31 A.8.27 A.8.28
CM0045 Error Detection and Correcting Memory Use Error Detection and Correcting (EDAC) memory and integrate EDAC scheme with fault management and cyber-protection mechanisms to respond to the detection of uncorrectable multi-bit errors, other than time-delayed monitoring of EDAC telemetry by the mission operators on the ground. The spacecraft should utilize the EDAC scheme to routinely check for bit errors in the stored data on board the spacecraft, correct the single-bit errors, and identify the memory addresses of data with uncorrectable multi-bit errors of at least order two, if not higher order in some cases. D3-HCI D3-MBT 7.5.1 7.5.2 7.5.3 A.5.2 A.5.29 A.8.1 A.5.2 A.5.8 A.8.25 A.8.31 A.8.27 A.8.28