Encrypting satellite communications — GCN

low earth orbit satellites (NASA)

Encrypting satellite communications

Cybersecurity is a concern not just for systems located on Earth’s surface, but also for satellites hundreds of miles from the ground.

As the the Department of Defense moves toward using large constellations of inexpensive low-earth orbit satellites for DOD space initiatives, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants input into how to bake security into these satellites, according to an April 24 request for information.

DARPA is looking for cybersecurity innovations at every aspect of satellite technology architecture across the timeline from development to decommissioning, such as: 

  • IT systems that collect, generate, store, process, transmit and receive national security information.
  • End-to-end encryption, including techniques and architectures that protect all transmitted data over any communications link.
  • Secure networking for a large number of satellites in multiple orbits with multiple communications links and multiple remote users.
  • Autonomous detection and response to malicious cyber events.

Following the review of responses, DARPA plans to hold a Space Cybersecurity Workshop in San Diego, Calif., with a subset of submitters, to further identifying technology challenges and development strategies for space cybersecurity systems.

In March, DARPA issued an RFI for autonomous management of information sharing across a constellation of networked satellites.

Read the satellite data encryption RFI here.