Cyber Best Practices for Small Satellites

By Scott Kordella, Ph.D.

To address principles described in the U.S. government’s Space Policy Directive Five, a set of "resilient space best practices" guidelines should be established. In this paper, we tailor the principles used in these other applications to the space domain.

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Protection of satellites and ground systems against cyber-attack is necessary to ensure safe operations in the space sector. Protection will be required for both the command segments of and workloads served by a rapidly proliferating constellation of new, largely commercial satellites, numbering possibly in the tens of thousands. Effective and commercially viable cyber protection strategies are required that can be updated regularly to meet changing threats.

Cyber protection strategies have been developed in other (non-space) sectors using collaborative processes, which has resulted in more secure systems. This paper describes some of the cyber protection work in other sectors, the collaborative processes used to develop viable cyber protection solutions, the solutions themselves that have been identified and are being used, and the lessons-learned from their use, resulting in a set of ‘best-practices’ in these sectors. The processes used in these domains to develop these strategies can be applied to the space domain, with similar expected results and best practices for space systems.