Secondary/Backup Communication Channel: 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.

ID: IA-0004.01
Sub-technique of:  IA-0004
Related Aerospace Threat IDs:  SV-MA-7
Created: 2022/10/19
Last Modified: 2022/12/08


ID Name Description NIST Rev5
CM0022 Criticality Analysis Conduct a criticality analysis to identify mission critical functions, critical components, and data flows and reduce the vulnerability of such functions and components through secure system design. Focus supply chain protection on the most critical components/functions. Leverage other countermeasures like segmentation and least privilege to protect the critical components. CP-2(8) PM-11 PM-17 PM-30 PM-30(1) PM-32 RA-3(1) RA-9 RA-9 SA-15(3) SC-32(1) SC-7(29) SR-1 SR-1 SR-2 SR-2(1) SR-3 SR-3(2) SR-3(3) SR-5(1) SR-7
CM0033 Relay Protection Implement relay and replay-resistant authentication mechanisms for establishing a remote connection or connections on the spacecraft bus. AC-17(10) AC-17(10) IA-2(8) IA-3 IA-3(1) IA-4 IA-7 SC-13 SC-23 SC-7 SC-7(11) SC-7(18) SI-10 SI-10(5) SI-10(6) SI-3(8)
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. AC-17(1) AC-17(10) AC-2(11) AC-2(12) AC-3 AC-3(2) AC-3(3) AC-3(4) AC-3(8) CA-3(7) SC-7 SI-3(8)
CM0005 Ground-based Countermeasures This countermeasure is focused on the protection of terrestrial assets like ground networks and development environments/contractor networks, etc. Traditional detection technologies and capabilities would be applicable here. Utilizing resources from NIST CSF to properly secure these environments using identify, protect, detect, recover, and respond is likely warranted. Additionally, NISTIR 8401 may provide resources as well since it was developed to focus on ground-based security for space systems ( Furthermore, the MITRE ATT&CK framework provides IT focused TTPs and their mitigations Several recommended NIST 800-53 Rev5 controls are provided for reference when designing ground systems/networks. AC-1 AC-10 AC-11 AC-11(1) AC-12 AC-12(1) AC-14 AC-16 AC-16(6) AC-17 AC-17(1) AC-17(10) AC-17(2) AC-17(3) AC-17(4) AC-17(6) AC-17(9) AC-18 AC-18(1) AC-18(3) AC-18(4) AC-18(5) AC-19 AC-19(5) AC-2 AC-2(1) AC-2(11) AC-2(12) AC-2(13) AC-2(2) AC-2(3) AC-2(4) AC-2(9) AC-20 AC-20(1) AC-20(2) AC-20(3) AC-20(5) AC-21 AC-22 AC-3 AC-3(11) AC-3(13) AC-3(15) AC-3(4) AC-4 AC-4(23) AC-4(24) AC-4(25) AC-4(26) AC-4(31) AC-4(32) AC-6 AC-6(1) AC-6(10) AC-6(2) AC-6(3) AC-6(5) AC-6(8) AC-6(9) AC-7 AC-8 AT-2(4) AT-2(4) AT-2(5) AT-2(6) AT-3 AT-3(2) AT-4 AU-10 AU-11 AU-12 AU-12(1) AU-12(3) AU-14 AU-14(1) AU-14(3) AU-2 AU-3 AU-3(1) AU-4 AU-4(1) AU-5 AU-5(1) AU-5(2) AU-5(5) AU-6 AU-6(1) AU-6(3) AU-6(4) AU-6(5) AU-6(6) AU-7 AU-7(1) AU-8 AU-9 AU-9(2) AU-9(3) AU-9(4) CA-3 CA-3(6) CA-3(7) CA-7 CA-7(1) CA-7(6) CA-8 CA-9 CM-10(1) CM-11 CM-11(2) CM-11(3) CM-12 CM-12(1) CM-14 CM-2 CM-2(2) CM-2(3) CM-2(7) CM-3 CM-3(1) CM-3(2) CM-3(5) CM-3(7) CM-3(7) CM-3(8) CM-4 CM-5(1) CM-5(5) CM-6 CM-6(1) CM-6(2) CM-7 CM-7(1) CM-7(2) CM-7(3) CM-7(5) CM-7(8) CM-7(8) CM-7(9) CM-8 CM-8(1) CM-8(2) CM-8(3) CM-8(4) CM-9 CP-10 CP-10(2) CP-10(4) CP-2 CP-2(2) CP-2(5) CP-2(8) CP-3(1) CP-4(5) CP-8 CP-8(1) CP-8(2) CP-8(3) CP-8(4) CP-8(5) CP-9 CP-9(1) CP-9(2) CP-9(3) IA-11 IA-12 IA-12(1) IA-12(2) IA-12(3) IA-12(4) IA-12(5) IA-12(6) IA-2 IA-2(1) IA-2(12) IA-2(2) IA-2(5) IA-2(6) IA-2(8) IA-3 IA-3(1) IA-4 IA-4(9) IA-5 IA-5(1) IA-5(13) IA-5(14) IA-5(2) IA-5(7) IA-5(8) IA-6 IA-7 IA-8 IR-2 IR-2(2) IR-2(3) IR-3(3) IR-4 IR-4(1) IR-4(11) IR-4(11) IR-4(12) IR-4(13) IR-4(14) IR-4(3) IR-4(4) IR-4(5) IR-4(6) IR-4(7) IR-4(8) IR-5 IR-5(1) IR-6 IR-6(1) IR-7 IR-7(1) MA-2 MA-3 MA-3(1) MA-3(2) MA-3(3) MA-4 MA-4(1) MA-4(3) MA-4(6) MA-4(7) MA-5(1) MA-6 MA-7 MP-2 MP-3 MP-4 MP-5 MP-5(4) MP-6 MP-6(3) MP-7 PE-3(7) PL-10 PL-11 PL-8 PL-8(1) PL-8(2) PL-9 PL-9 PM-11 PM-16(1) PM-17 PM-30 PM-30(1) PM-31 PM-32 RA-10 RA-3(1) RA-3(2) RA-3(2) RA-3(3) RA-3(4) RA-5 RA-5(10) RA-5(11) RA-5(2) RA-5(4) RA-5(5) RA-7 RA-9 RA-9 SA-10 SA-10(1) SA-10(7) SA-11 SA-11(2) SA-11(9) SA-15 SA-15(3) SA-15(7) SA-17 SA-2 SA-22 SA-3 SA-3(1) SA-3(2) SA-3(2) SA-4 SA-4(1) SA-4(10) SA-4(12) SA-4(2) SA-4(3) SA-4(5) SA-4(7) SA-4(9) SA-5 SA-8 SA-8(14) SA-8(15) SA-8(18) SA-8(21) SA-8(22) SA-8(23) SA-8(24) SA-8(9) SA-9 SA-9(1) SA-9(2) SA-9(6) SA-9(7) SC-10 SC-12 SC-12(1) SC-12(6) SC-13 SC-15 SC-16(2) SC-16(3) SC-18(1) SC-18(2) SC-18(3) SC-18(4) SC-2 SC-2(2) SC-20 SC-21 SC-22 SC-23 SC-23(1) SC-23(3) SC-23(5) SC-24 SC-28 SC-28(1) SC-28(11) SC-28(3) SC-3 SC-38 SC-39 SC-4 SC-45 SC-45(1) SC-45(1) SC-45(2) SC-49 SC-5 SC-5(1) SC-5(2) SC-5(3) SC-50 SC-51 SC-7 SC-7(10) SC-7(11) SC-7(12) SC-7(13) SC-7(14) SC-7(18) SC-7(21) SC-7(25) SC-7(29) SC-7(3) SC-7(4) SC-7(5) SC-7(5) SC-7(7) SC-7(8) SC-7(9) SC-8 SC-8(1) SC-8(2) SC-8(5) SI-10 SI-10(3) SI-10(6) SI-11 SI-14(3) SI-16 SI-19(4) SI-2 SI-2(2) SI-2(3) SI-2(6) SI-21 SI-3 SI-3 SI-3(10) SI-4 SI-4(1) SI-4(10) SI-4(11) SI-4(12) SI-4(13) SI-4(14) SI-4(15) SI-4(16) SI-4(17) SI-4(2) SI-4(20) SI-4(22) SI-4(23) SI-4(24) SI-4(25) SI-4(4) SI-4(5) SI-5 SI-5(1) SI-6 SI-7 SI-7(1) SI-7(17) SI-7(2) SI-7(5) SI-7(7) SI-7(8) SR-1 SR-1 SR-10 SR-11 SR-11 SR-11(1) SR-11(2) SR-11(3) SR-12 SR-2 SR-2(1) SR-3 SR-3(1) SR-3(2) SR-3(2) SR-3(3) SR-4 SR-4(1) SR-4(2) SR-4(3) SR-4(4) SR-5 SR-5 SR-5(1) SR-5(2) SR-6 SR-6(1) SR-6(1) SR-7 SR-7 SR-8 SR-9 SR-9(1)


  • Waller J. M.: Iran and Cuba Zap U.S. Satellites In: Insight Magazine Url: August 2003 Retrieved 08/07/2019
  • Martin, P. K.:NASA Cybersecurity: An Examination of the Agency’s Information Security In: Testimony before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology February 2012 Url: Retrieved 08/07/2019