Threat actor is trying to steal information.

Informational References

ID: ST0008


ID Name Description
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.
.01 Power Analysis Attacks Threat actors can analyze power consumption on-board the spacecraft to exfiltrate information. In power analysis attacks, the threat actor studies the power consumption of devices, especially cryptographic modules. Power analysis attacks require close proximity to a sensor node, such that a threat actor can measure the power consumption of the sensor node. There are two types of power analysis, namely simple power analysis (SPA) and differential power analysis (DPA). In differential power analysis, the threat actor studies the power analysis and is able to apply mathematical and statistical principles to determine the intermediate values.
.02 Electromagnetic Leakage Attacks Threat actors can leverage electromagnetic emanations to obtain sensitive information. The electromagnetic radiations attain importance when they are hardware generated emissions, especially emissions from the cryptographic module. Electromagnetic leakage attacks have been shown to be more successful than power analysis attacks on chicards. If proper protections are not in place on the spacecraft, the circuitry is exposed and hence leads to stronger emanations of EM radiations. If the circuitry is exposed, it provides an easier environment to study the electromagnetic emanations from each individual component.
.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.
.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.
.05 Thermal Imaging attacks Threat actors can leverage thermal imaging attacks (e.g., infrared images) to measure heat that is emitted as a means to exfiltrate information from spacecraft processors. Thermal attacks rely on temperature profiling using sensors to extract critical information from the chip(s). The availability of highly sensitive thermal sensors, infrared cameras, and techniques to calculate power consumption from temperature distribution [7] has enhanced the effectiveness of these attacks. As a result, side-channel attacks can be performed by using temperature data without measuring power pins of the chip.
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
.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.
.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-0006 Modify Communications Configuration Threat actors can manipulate communications equipment, modifying the existing software, hardware, or the transponder configuration to exfiltrate data via unintentional channels the mission has no control over.
.01 Software Defined Radio Threat actors may target software defined radios due to their software nature to setup exfiltration channels. Since SDRs are programmable, when combined with supply chain or development environment attacks, SDRs provide a pathway to setup covert exfiltration channels for a threat actor.
.02 Transponder Threat actors may change the transponder configuration to exfiltrate data via radio access to an attacker-controlled asset.
EXF-0007 Compromised Ground System Threat actors may compromise target owned ground systems that can be used for future campaigns 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 an operation. Threat actors may utilize these systems for various tasks, including Execution and Exfiltration.
EXF-0008 Compromised Developer Site Threat actors may compromise development environments located within the ground system or a developer/partner site. This attack can take place in a number of different ways, including manipulation of source code, manipulating environment variables, or replacing compiled versions with a malicious one. This technique is usually performed before the target spacecraft is in orbit, with the hopes of adding malicious code to the actual FSW during the development process.
EXF-0009 Compromised Partner Site Threat actors may compromise access to partner sites that can be used for future campaigns or to perpetuate other techniques. These sites are typically configured for communications to the primary ground station(s) or in some cases the spacecraft itself. Unlike mission operated ground systems, partner sites may provide an easier target for threat actors depending on the company, roles and responsibilities, and interests of the third-party. 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.
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.