New US State Department strategy emphasises cybersecurity in space diplomacy

The framework outlines how to secure assets in space.

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The US State Department has released a new Strategic Framework for Space Diplomacy, emphasising the significance of cybersecurity in space diplomacy. As the Biden administration aims to protect space equipment from cyberattacks, the framework outlines goals that involve collaborating with industry and partners to secure assets in space. It also emphasises working with US cybersecurity agencies to establish a secure environment and enhance the resiliency of space assets against adversarial offensive operations.

In the context of the annual threat assessment by the US intelligence community, the document acknowledges China and Russia as key competitors in space and highlights a Russian cyberattack on a satellite broadband service during the invasion of Ukraine.

The State Department’s strategic framework also aims to involve US diplomats more prominently in shaping space policies, expanding beyond the traditional purview of NASA and the Pentagon. In particular, the framework outlines the necessity to ‘integrate space-related policy and programmatic objectives and concerns into international cybersecurity, electromagnetic spectrum, environmental, critical infrastructure, and other relevant diplomatic fora’ as well as ‘promote and explain U.S. policy on cybersecurity and information and communications technologies (ICTS) in space, space-related critical infrastructure security and resilience’.

Calls for increased action in the realm of space cybersecurity have also emerged, including the recommendation to designate space systems as critical infrastructure by the successor of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. The implementation of such a designation could attract greater attention to the sector. Meanwhile, the White House is in the process of rewriting a 2013 directive on critical infrastructure, with the inclusion of space yet to be determined, according to acting national cyber director Kemba Walden.