Cybersecurity is defined by the International Telecommunication Unionas “the collection of tools, policies, security concepts… risk management approaches… and technologies that can be used to protect the cyber environment and organization.” Space security can be understood similarly, but instead towards the protection of outer space and assets there. This article aims at understanding the links between these two notions and the challenges at their junction.
Two intertwined domains
My theory of meta-geopolitics outlines seven interrelated dimensions of state power (social and health issues, domestic politics, economics, environment, science and human potential, military and security issues, international diplomacy) that constitute the new paradigm of statecraft. The book Meta-Geopolitics of Outer Space explains how these seven dimensions are present in outer space. In the social and health sector for instance, satellites are crucial to monitor diseases or even guide remote medication delivery systems. In the case of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, it appeared that disease monitoring and large scale disinfection by unmanned aerial vehicles, guided by 28 BeiDou Phase III navigation satellites, were crucial to mitigate the spread.
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Space is thus a critical asset for the modern state and the challenges it faces. This dependency relies on the critical interaction of cybersecurity and space security. Indeed, several data flows can be identified between the Earth and space-based assets. First, information is sent from Earth to satellites and other space-based assets (Earth-space interactions.) Second, information is sent back to Earth from satellites and other space-based assets (space-Earth interactions.) These flows are critical and vulnerable to threats. The security of space-based infrastructure depends on the safety of Earth-space interactions, and the security of systems relying on data from space depends on the safety of space-Earth interactions. For example, false information could be given by Earth-based attackers to a satellite to force it to collide with another.