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US Challengers Can Spoof, Dazzle, Cyber Attack US Satellites: DepSecDef

Posted by Colin Clark on

Thirty days with space and cyber Airmen

Space ops at Cheyenne Mountain

COLORADO SPRINGS: The work being done at the high-profile Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSPOC) includes live experiments with satellites, in addition to the wargaming that all assumed has been taking place, Deputy Defense Bob Work  says.

“There are satellites up there, as you know, that don’t have a lot of useful life left,” Work replied when I asked what he meant by “live experiments.” He said they are actually moving satellites in some cases to mimic real-life responses, much as the services do with major exercises.

When I asked him on the flight out to Colorado Springs if he was comfortable with the level of detailed attribution in those exercises, he said: “We have a pretty good understanding of what our potential adversaries are capable of. It’s across the board. It includes jamming. It includes dazzling. It includes spoofing. It includes cyber attacks. It includes on-orbit attacks and direct-ascent ASAT attacks.”

This is a rare admission of threats to space assets. Dazzling and spoofing are considered especially sensitive areas because telling an enemy that you know you’ve been spoofed or dazzled is important intelligence for them. Because of that space warriors rarely discuss them.

As the Intelligence Community and the military’s space warriors work together to create new tactics, technique snd proceeders, they are also building new doctrine about how to fight. As an example, Work said they might assume a threat against a commercial communications satellite in a JICSPOC exercise. Do we have the authorities tor respond quickly and know who controls the satellite, is a question they have to answer. Does the Defense Department or the IC have the authorities to order the satellite moved? And how do they determine that?

In addition, Work told reporters aboard his plane that he foresaw a day when — maybe — the IC and  military could use a true common ground station to make information sharing easier. But he was very cautious on that one.

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