Protect Space Experiment Data from Cyber Attacks! The Forefront of Security Countermeasure【Consider the Future of Earth Together with Serika Ito #9】
Even we call “Space Development”, there are various purposes, technologies, and missions.
In this series, we consider the current situation and the future of space development together with our Chief Dream Officer(CDO), Serika Ito.
The theme of this time is cyber attacks, which are rapidly increasing in damage. Is there any impact on the space field? We discussed the importance of countermeasures with Mr. Azuma, COO of WARPSPACE, who has deep knowledge of cyber security.
What is a rampant cyber attack?
Serika: Nice to meet you, Mr. Azuma! This time, the theme is cyber security. I heard that your previous job was related to cyber security.
Azuma: Yes! I was working on developing cyber security technology for deep tech. This was because I myself had been the victim of a cyber attack, and I thought, “Cyber security will become more important from now on.”
Security requirements are rising every year in preparation for attacks, so the challenge for software development companies was how to ensure that.
Serika: What happens if you are subjected to a cyber attack? Is there any visible damage?
Azuma: Typical damage is the destruction of data. Then they demand a ransom, saying, “If you want us to fix your data, you have to pay us”, which is a common technique. Criminals also have to monetize, so they are running in the direction of making money.
At a company I used to work for, an IT service we provided was cyber attacked, and as a result, we almost ended up in court because of the inconvenience we caused to our client.
It is the attackers who are to be blamed. However, due to the lack of a legal system, I, as one of the victims, was about to be accused of the crime.
Incidentally, I once had my credit card information leaked or used fraudulently to purchase several hundred thousand yen worth of character goods without my noticing. I was caught up in the malicious resale of goods.
Serika: It must have been a hard time… It is scary that companies and individuals can also be targeted. Now that I’ve heard what you’ve said, I have an idea of what a cyber attack is, but what is cyber security? Please tell me again.
Azuma: To use a medical analogy, cyber security is like a vaccine to protect against threats on the network. Depending on the threat, there are different vaccines, or countermeasures.
Serika: So cybersecurity is a means to prevent damage from cyber attacks!
Cybersecurity in space is an extension of the ground
Serika: According to cyber security specialist Toshio Nawa, the space industry has already begun to experience cyber attacks. What kind of damage is expected?
Azuma: It would be a different story if life on Earth and in space were completely separate, but the International Space Station (ISS) and other modern space facilities are operated on the basis of the Earth. In other words, cyber security in space is fundamentally the same as on the ground, just with space stations and satellites at the end of airplanes flying in the sky. There is nothing special about it.
However, if space-related technologies and services, which are the foundation of social infrastructure, are subjected to cyber attacks, the impact of the damage would be enormous. If GPS, which is used to obtain location information, stops working, or if you are misdirected to a different location by receiving a false signal that impersonates GPS…
Serika: Car navigation systems and smartphone map apps would stop working, and people who rely on GPS to climb mountains could get lost.
Azuma: In fact, some GPS systems have been disabled due to cyber attacks.
Also, satellite-based communications have been growing in recent years. If communication satellites are not protected, they could be hijacked and their data could be tampered with. The destruction of public services is terrorism of the worst kind.
Optical Communications and Security
Serika: Hearing what you said, I now understand the danger of cyber attacks and the importance of taking countermeasures. I heard that optical communications are attracting attention for improving the security level. Why are optical communications so secure?
Azuma: First of all, wireless communication can be broadly divided into two types, radio wave communication and optical communication. Radio wave communications have the risk of data being eavesdropped on since radio waves spread around the environment. On the other hand, the laser used in optical communications is a straight line, so the risk of data being intercepted is much lower, to the extent that the challenge is that it is difficult to receive the data in the opposite direction.
This optical communication is a key technology for the service being developed by WARPSPACE. WARPSPACE is developing 「WarpHub InterSat」, an optical communications infrastructure service for satellites orbiting in Low Earth Orbit(LEO), 400 to 1000 km above the ground.
In this system, three relay satellites capable of optical communications are launched into Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), which is a higher altitude than LEO, and through the relay satellites, data sent from the satellites in LEO is transmitted to the ground station.
Nevertheless, the utilization of optical communication technology is not the only way to ensure safety. As I mentioned earlier, space is an extension of the ground, so of course we also place importance on building a cybersecurity infrastructure on the ground.
Serika: Lastly, what do you think WARPSPACE can contribute to society in terms of cyber security?
Azuma: As a telecommunications carrier, I think that pursuing how we can transport data safely and securely is a good way to contribute to society.
To give an example similar to your work as an astronaut, if communications are not secure, there is a risk that communications between the ground and the ISS could be intercepted or tampered with. How painful it would be if Serika’s important experimental data, which you have worked so hard to obtain, were to be destroyed…
Serika: So it is only with sufficient security countermeasures that the data from experiments conducted by astronauts on the ISS reaches the ground safely!
Azuma: Yes. I believe that protecting such important data is the mission of WARPSPACE, a telecommunications service provider!
The ninth guest in the series of conversations with Astronaus Serika was Azuma, COO of WARPSPACE, and Serika discussed the topic of cyber security.
In the next session, Tina Ghataore, the CCO of Mynaric, a German venture company that manufactures and develops satellite optical communication devices, will be our guest to discuss “How society will change if satellite optical communication becomes widely used.”