The reality that there are numerous entry points for cyber attackers in the ground systems and network equipment needed to control space systems is something that satellite operators and other stakeholders in the space economy must cope with.
Cyber and malware attacks are quite easy to carry out, making them significantly more affordable than missiles or lasers in the domain of space, and having the tendency to cause much more debilitating effects. It is for these reasons that the space economy must be well equipped to deal with such cyber-attacks in order to ensure the safety of the wider ecosystem.
The space industry and technology share a lot of similarities with our terrestrial digital world’s infrastructure and perform many of the same tasks. However, size, distance, and the importance of systems and equipment operation pose the most problems.
For instance, if a hacker infiltrated earth-based system and supplied a satellite with false information, it might result in an interstellar collision and possibly bring down important communications networks worldwide.
Second, more governments and corporate groups than ever before are getting involved in space programs. The number of potential access sites for hackers grows even as the entry barrier is dropped, encouraging creativity and discovery. The primary player that needs to be protected is no longer NASA. Malicious actors now have a much wider range of potential targets, including other governments and equipment suppliers.
The development of sophisticated technology that can be used for hacking, such quantum computers, also poses a serious cybersecurity risk to the ecosystem located in space. As industries like space travel and militarization advance, hackers who are aware of the potential financial benefit of ransomware and other assaults will turn their attention to these developments.
The significant lack of international cybersecurity collaboration combined with space technology creates several challenges that must be overcome in the coming decades.
University of Buffalo: Center for Space Cyber Strategy and Cyber Security