10.11.2021 – The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a contract to CYSEC, cybersecurity company based at EPFL Innovation Park, to develop end-to-end protection of governmental data exchanged over satellites, under ESA’s Strategic Programme Line Space Systems for Safety and Security (ARTES 4S).
Satellite communications are an essential component of government security and defence communications (Govsatcom), with many use cases ranging from surveillance, crisis management, critical infrastructure management, border control, election monitoring, etc. Govsatcom traffic is forecast to increase 25-fold by 2040, with civilian applications accounting for about 80% of usage.
Solutions must therefore be found to cope with this increase in traffic.
The use of commercial satcom services would allow government users to access much higher bandwidth, more competitive prices and better service availability. Unfortunately, the security of data transmitted via satellite is currently a barrier for government customers. A research conducted in 2019 by Oxford University and armasuisse has shown that the use of publicly available electronic equipment allows eavesdropping on sensitive information broadcast by communication satellites such as personal information (names, addresses) but also critical infrastructure identifiers. The main reason for the lack of security in existing commercial services is that most satellite Internet service providers (ISPs) do not implement cryptographic encryption, which significantly slows down the speed of the link.
“Cybersecurity is a very important issue at ESA, not only for our own missions but for all services using satellite communications. The need to exchange government data via satellite is growing and the CYSEC activity will demonstrate that it is possible to combine end-to-end security with all the benefits of a commercial link.” commented Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA
CYSEC with the support of armasuisse
ESA is now relying on CYSEC to develop the cryptographic key exchange protocol needed to protect the satellite link and implement it on both sides of the link in its ARCA secure environment. The solution developed by the startup from Lausanne will allow government users to communicate via commercial services while benefiting from the highest level of security, without significantly impacting performance. The activity will be fully managed and implemented by CYSEC with the technical support of Cyber-Defence Campus of armasuisse.
This ESA contract demonstrates once again that space infrastructures play a key role in data processing and transmission and that security in the space industry is still in its infancy. CYSEC is positioned as the European leader in the protection of sensitive data, and thanks to its expertise and important partnerships, its ARCA technology is now ready to protect data in space.
A second edition of CYSAT in 2022
The theme of cybersecurity for space applications will be at the heart of the second edition of CYSAT. The event will take place in Paris on 6,7 and 8 April 2022.
One of a kind event in Europe, it brings together space and security experts. For 2022, technical conferences with cybernetics and space experts will be planed, added to that, a business and political day will invite business leaders and representatives of national and European agencies. There will even be a live hacking demonstration on an orbiting satellite! Details will be available at the end of the month. SAVE THE DATE!
Source: Press release CYSEC