New White House Space Policy Directive Addresses Cybersecurity

New White House Space Policy Directive Addresses Cybersecurity

The Trump White House released its fifth Space Policy Directive today.  This one establishes principles for space cybersecurity — satellites and their supporting infrastructure.

Two senior administration officials laid out the basics of Space Policy Directive-5 (SPD-5) during a media briefing today.  The directive creates five cybersecurity principles for space systems:

  • Space systems and their supporting infrastructure including software, should be developed and operated using risk-based, cybersecurity-informed engineering;
  • Space systems operators should develop or integrate cybersecurity plans for space systems that include capabilities to: protect against unauthorized access; reduce vulnerabilities of command, control and telemetry systems; protect against communications jamming and spoofing; protect ground systems from cyber threats; promote adoption of appropriate cybersecurity hygiene practices; and, manage supply chain risks;
  • Space system cybersecurity requirements and regulations should leverage widely-adopted best practices and norms of behavior;
  • Space system owners and operators should collaborate to promote the development of best practices and mitigations; and
  • Space systems operators should make appropriate risk trades when implementing cybersecurity requirements specific to their system.

In a joint statement, White House National Space Council Executive Secretary and Deputy Assistant to the President Scott Pace said SPD-5 “provides a whole-of-government framework to safeguard space assets and critical infrastructure.”  National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the Trump Administration is “committed to protecting the American people from all cyber-related threats … including American space systems and capabilities.”

During the media briefing, the senior administration officials stressed SPD-5 is not trying to impose top-down standards on the commercial space sector. Instead, the goal is to leverage existing government-private sector mechanisms for coordinating across the 16 designated critical infrastructure sectors, several of which, such as communications, have a space-related component.

One of the officials said the timing of today’s announcement was not connected to the reported launch of a spaceplane by China this morning and referred any questions about that launch to U.S. Space Command.

This article has been updated.

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