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.
Other Subtechniques of Modify On-Board Values ( 13 )
Employ the principle of least privilege, allowing only authorized processes which are necessary to accomplish assigned tasks in accordance with system functions. Ideally maintain a separate execution domain for each executing process.
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.
Ensure fault management system cannot be used against the spacecraft. Examples include: safe mode with crypto bypass, orbit correction maneuvers, affecting integrity of telemetry to cause action from ground, or some sort of proximity operation to cause spacecraft to go into safe mode. Understanding the safing procedures and ensuring they do not put the spacecraft in a more vulnerable state is key to building a resilient spacecraft.
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.
Identify the key system components or capabilities that require isolation through physical or logical means. Information should not be allowed to flow between partitioned applications unless explicitly permitted by security policy. Isolate mission critical functionality from non-mission critical functionality by means of an isolation boundary (implemented via partitions) that controls access to and protects the integrity of, the hardware, software, and firmware that provides that functionality. Enforce approved authorizations for controlling the flow of information within the spacecraft and between interconnected systems based on the defined security policy that information does not leave the spacecraft boundary unless it is encrypted. Implement boundary protections to separate bus, communications, and payload components supporting their respective functions.