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InfoBeam Part I
World Teleport Association Tackles Cybercriminals • Virgin Orbit Demo Mission • Why the time for a cyber-range is now


World Teleport Association Tackles Cybercriminals Vs. Teleports

The World Teleport Association (WTA) has released How Cybercriminals Break into Your Teleport, a new research report that shares insights about how hackers operate and what vulnerabilities they look for in a teleport. The report pushes past confusing jargon to arm readers with the knowledge needed to make the right cybersecurity choices for their teleports.

It’s tough for the executives of small-to-midsize teleport operations to provide adequate protection against cyberthreats,” said executive director and report author Robert Bell, adding, “There are so many competing priorities for investment and management attention. The jargon of cybersecurity can also be hard to penetrate to find real answers. In this report, we cut through the jargon to focus on the motivations and methods of the people on the other end of the cyberattack. Understanding them better equips executives to decide on priorities and make smart investments.

WTA Members can access the report by signing in to their accounts on the WTA website. This report is available exclusively to WTA Members — access this direct infolink for additional information...

Every discussion of cybersecurity descends, sooner or later, into a fog of words that only people who are cybersecurity experts understand. They can talk all day about cross-site scripting, SQL injection and buffer overflow vulnerabilities — and decision-makers will be none the wiser.

What’s missing is a shared understanding of — not what the bad guys are doing — but how they go about their work.

When you understand how hackers work, decisions about what to defend and how best to defend it gets easier.

As any cybersecurity expert will tell you, the biggest risks you face come from people who have painstakingly honed the skills needed to break into your digital domain and find your valuables. How do they go about targeting your teleport and breaking through its defences?

Cybersecurity will always be complex, but it is an activity conducted by human beings, and to know them is to know the real enemy.

Since 1985, the World Teleport Association (www.worldteleport.org) has focused on improving the business of satellite communications from the ground up. At the core of its membership are the world's most innovative operators of teleports, from independents to multinationals, niche service providers to global carriers. WTA is dedicated to advocating for the interests of teleport operators in the global telecommunications market and promoting excellence in teleport business practice, technology and operations.

Virgin Orbit's Demo Mission: The Good + the Not-So-Good

Virgin Orbit conducted a launch demo of the company's air-launched rocket on May 25 in the skies over the Pacific Ocean, just off the California coast.

The company successfully completed all of the pre-launch procedures, the captive carry flight out to the drop site, clean telemetry lock from multiple dishes, a smooth pass through the racetrack, terminal count, and a clean release.

After being released from the carrier aircraft, the LauncherOne rocket successfully lighted its booster engine on cue — the first time the company had attempted an in-air ignition.

An anomaly then occurred early in first stage flight, and the mission safely terminated. The carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl and all of its crew landed safely at Mojave Air and Space Port, concluding the mission.

The company’s next rocket is in final stages of integration at their Long Beach manufacturing facility, with a half-dozen other rockets for subsequent missions not far behind.

Virgin Orbit’s decision to begin production of multiple rockets well in advance of this test flight will enable the team to progress to the next attempt at a significantly faster pace, shortly after making any necessary modifications to the launch system.

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said that the team performed their prelaunch and flight operations with incredible skill. Test flights are instrumented to yield data and we now have a treasure trove of that. We accomplished many of the goals set for this flight, though not as many as all would have liked. Nevertheless, this is a big step forward. The Virgin Orbit engineers are already poring through the data. and the next rocket is waiting. The company will learn, adjust and begin preparing for the next test, which is coming up soon.

Why the time for a cyber-range is now...

At a time when providing space capabilities is shifting from the preserve of governments to the private sector, there’s an increasing need to use cyber to secure space assets, including orbital, ground, links and people.

This type of capability is already in use around the world, albeit mainly behind the closed doors of government or agency establishments. However, the emergence of commercially available cyber-ranges provides the opportunity to cost-effectively analyse the cyber threat, assess vulnerabilities and design responses in the space domain.

RHEA Group provides such a capability for ESA, based in Redu, Belgium. The first dedicated Cyber Range for Space, the facility provides the capability to create virtual architectures, including space and, when required, non-space asset emulation.

This enables operator training and system of systems test and evaluation, and provides a safe and secure setting to understand and successfully manage space operations in a hostile cyber environment.

Having an ability to understand and protect our own space assets and capabilities from cyber threats doesn’t mean we can or should stop assessing the international context.

It is urgent that a flexible, multilateral space and cybersecurity regime is developed. It may be that we take a leaf out of the approach taken by the space community in terms of promoting behavioural norms; creating an international ‘community of the willing’ made up of able states and other critical stakeholders within the international space supply chain may offer a solution to this growing problem.

Understanding the domains and how they interact will be an important element of this, with a central role to be played by space cyber-ranges.