The opportunities surrounding the space industry are becoming more attainable than ever before. So do challenges. But, with vast investments and data at stake, the question is how we can keep ventures to our final frontier secure and in turn, productive?
In 2021, three names dominated headlines in space news – Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk. While these billionaires may have provoked their share of controversy in what seemed to be a very expensive game of one-upmanship, there is something more significant to the future of space travel brewing in the background. Bezos, Branson and Musk all travelled to space on private-sector spacecraft.
The race to space is no longer exclusive to world leaders and government-linked agencies – it is now open to world-changing innovators and those with the resources to do so.
This opportunity has not gone unnoticed in the UK, with a number of initiatives launched over the last few years to support tech innovators
Space Park Leicester welcomed its first tenants in July 2021 and has boosted the regional economy by £750 million a year while creating 2,500 jobs. The £100 million space research, innovation, and teaching cluster was developed by the University of Leicester with national and international partners.
The UK and Australia signed a ‘Space Bridge’ partnership to increase knowledge and investment in space sectors for the two countries last year. This bold move will allow the most innovative space businesses and learning institutions to collaborate in unlocking new opportunities for both countries in the future.
There is no doubt that in today’s world, space presents an untapped potential for science and economics, and people are sitting up to listen.
With all eyes on the commercial opportunities that space has to offer, it is obvious that the UK space sector is up against the most unforgiving challenge of all – time. With the sector designing the blueprint as it goes, industry players lack the organisation and coordination required to move forward with their innovation efficiently. It would benefit from stronger governmental support through legislative regulations to moderate pace, agility and accountability.
Presently, there are seven key players in the UK and this support can help more names enter the space industry. By easing accessibility for the UK space sector, the nation benefits from an environment of healthy competition as well as ground-breaking innovation.
With current challenges faced internationally, the sector is encountering supply chain issues that hamper its growth. Along with cyber threats that are awakening in the space sector, growth can be stunted if these problems are not effectively addressed.
CYBERSECURITY IN THE FINAL FRONTIER
Our ability to build a future in space rests heavily on emergent technology and presently, earth-bound resources. From the immense investments and ground-breaking intellectual property at stake, it comes as no surprise that the space sector has piqued the interest of cyber-perpetrators.
After all, the space sector has trebled in the last few years. Playing a pivotal role in transforming the international commercial space landscape, the sector directly contributes £14.8 billion to the UK economy, including £5.5 billion from exports.
A cyberattack on any player within the space sector is not just an inconvenience, it is catastrophic to the organisation, the safety of the individuals involved and the future of any space programme.
With the rate of progress within this sector, static cybersecurity solutions devoid of careful risk assessments and dynamism are simply not fit for purpose. In no specific order, the prime current priorities for cybersecurity in the space sector should be:
- Approached end-to-end to minimise vulnerabilities within the supply chain and end-user
- To protect the data and identities of passengers, employees and assets from cyberattacks
- Proactive in predictive analytics to effectively address potential threats on the horizon
- Embedded with technical controls to protect all domains
The unique circumstances of organisations in the space sector, call for robust tailor-made cybersecurity solutions. Regardless of the size of the organisation, it is imperative that players in the space sector do not become complacent about the key priorities in cybersecurity.
While in-house cybersecurity and cloud computing teams may seem unattainable with high overhead costs to smaller players in the space sector, looking into a cloud computing firm that covers Security Operations Centre as a Service (SOCaaS) would be an excellent first step in covering the key cybersecurity priorities.
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