Space cybersecurity takes center stage in Estonia

The global space industry is currently valued at around $350 billion. By 2040, it could be worth as much as one trillion dollars, the investment bank, Morgan Stanley, estimates. With so much at stake, securing space-based systems is crucial.

International geopolitical tensions and the increasing demand for satellite communications are the main drivers of investment, says Paul Liias, Head of Space at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for Estonia.

“Over the last 12 months as well, the conflict in Ukraine has underscored the strategic importance of space-based satellites and systems – more so than was the case three or four years ago. More than ever, we have a responsibility to manage and protect these systems properly with the latest cybersecurity measures,” he said ahead of the Software Defined Space Conference in Tallinn, Estonia, later this year.

Liias emphasized the importance of cybersecurity. To protect space-based systems from cyberattacks, it’s crucial to bring down the costs.

“Developers working in space cybersecurity have to manage competing priorities. On the one hand, they must investigate, identify and understand potential threats, and on the other, develop effective countermeasures at an affordable price point. Making space cybersecurity accessible and affordable is key,” he said.

Estonia, the home of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, has been focusing on protecting critical infrastructure like power grids and government IT systems.

“The growing importance of the space domain, together with geopolitical events of the last few years, means that we’ve expanded this focus. We now want to apply our cybersecurity expertise to space-based assets – whether it’s mission control centers and ground stations here on Earth or manned and unmanned spacecraft above,” Liias added.

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