The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) have issued an alert about the increased targeting of the US space industry by foreign intelligence entities (FIEs).
According to the advisory (PDF), the US is the main driver behind the projected growth of the global space economy, making the US space industry an attractive target for FIEs.
“[FIEs] see US space-related innovation and assets as potential threats as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies and expertise,” the three US government agencies say.
To gain access to the US space industry, these entities use tactics ranging from cyberattacks and supply chain compromise to strategic investments, the FBI, NCSC, and AFOSI say.
This targeting and exploitation of the US space industry, the agencies say, has an impact not only on national security, but also on economic security and on the global competition in the sector.
Threat actors, the agencies say, may leak intellectual property and steal innovations, collect information on and disrupt US satellite communications and related capabilities, impact the US’s ability to provide critical services, and find and exploit vulnerabilities in US commercial space infrastructure.
The targeting may negatively affect the revenue of the US commercial space sector and global market, may lead to exploitation of critical resources, and impact international laws, norms, and regulations to disadvantage space firms.
Signs of potential targeting by FIEs include usual cyber activity aimed at US space companies, requests to visit from unknown parties, specific questions about proprietary information, unsolicited offers for joint ventures, acquisition and investment efforts, and attempts to recruit an organization’s employees.
US space organizations are advised to log abnormal incidents, establish an insider threat program, invest in improving the enterprise-wide security posture, secure their most valuable assets, audit suppliers and their security practices, conduct due diligence on investors, and build resilience and redundancy into their operations.
Organizations that believe they are at risk or might have been targeted are encouraged to contact law enforcement.