FBI and NCSC Warn of Foreign Cyber Threats to US Space Sector

FBI and NCSC Warn of Foreign Cyberattacks on US Space Sector

Foreign cyber spies are targeting the US space industry for secrets and technology, warns the FBI, NCSC, and AFOSI.

  • Authorities warn of foreign cyber spies targeting the US space industry.
  • Beijing and Moscow are major sources of cyber threats, according to the US.
  • Tactics include cyberattacks, investments, and recruitment, says the FBI.
  • The US space sector’s significance increases vulnerability.
  • Advisory stresses safeguarding data and reporting suspicions.

In a joint advisory published on Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) issued a warning about the escalating threat of nation-state-sponsored cyber espionage targeting companies within the US space industry.

The report underscores the heightened risks posed by cyberattacks and other covert methods employed by foreign intelligence entities to pilfer research, trade secrets, and sensitive information related to the burgeoning sector.

Beijing and Moscow, the advisory points out, loom large as the main sources of these threats, with the FBI and other intelligence agencies identifying these capitals as prime actors in these ongoing campaigns. 

“We anticipate growing threats to this burgeoning sector of the US economy,” a counterintelligence official emphasized in a statement to Reuters.

As the global space economy is predicted to surge from $469 billion in 2021 to over $1 trillion by 2030, with the United States driving this growth, the vulnerability of the US space industry to foreign espionage has intensified, the report stated. 

Foreign intelligence entities are employing a multifaceted approach to access sensitive information crucial to their respective space programs. Techniques include cyberattacks, strategic investments, supply chain node targeting, and manipulation of joint business ventures and acquisitions.

The advisory also sheds light on espionage agents attending industry conferences and even requesting visits to industry facilities in pursuit of confidential data.

The report also highlights a tactic involving the recruitment of individual employees through offers of overseas work or consulting positions, along with direct offers of payment in exchange for intellectual property. The agencies underscore the importance of vigilance among US space companies and recommend immediate contact with the FBI or AFOSI in case of suspicious activities.

“Foreign intelligence entities recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the US economy and national security,” the advisory states. It highlights that not only does the industry contribute significantly to emergency services, energy, financial services, telecommunications, transportation, food, and agriculture, but its role is also pivotal in supporting critical infrastructure that underpins these domains.

US authorities, while not naming any specific countries, highlight the persistent and well-documented threats from Chinese hackers in the aviation, space, and satellite technology sectors. Chinese ambitions to challenge the United States space supremacy have been evident for years, with the Chinese government openly outlining its intention to lead the world in space exploration and technology by 2045.

In light of these intensifying espionage campaigns, the joint advisory urges safeguarding sensitive information and proprietary technologies within the US space industry. 

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