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Intelligence agencies warn that foreign spies are targeting US space companies

Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies are targeting US private space companies, attempting to steal critical technologies and with the aim of undermining US satellite capabilities during conflict or emergency, according to a new warning from US intelligence agencies. Preparing for cyber attack.

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center, the FBI and the Air Force issued a new advisory for US companies on Friday morning. Foreign intelligence services could target space companies, their employees and contractors providing services to those companies, the sweeping warning to industry said.

The data and intellectual property of space companies could be at risk from computer network breaches, intrusions inside companies and foreign intrusions into supply chains, officials said.

“Foreign intelligence agencies recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the US economy and national security, including the growing reliance of critical infrastructure on space-based assets,” the Counterintelligence Center warned. “They see US space-related innovation and assets as potential threats as well as valuable opportunities to gain critical technologies and expertise.”

While the United States still builds and launches multimillion-dollar reconnaissance and communications satellites, Most of US innovation in space is being done by commercial companiesIncluding those that launch and others that build and field satellites.

Intelligence agencies are becoming increasingly dependent on the private sector space industry, and based on recent FBI investigations and intelligence gathering on foreign intelligence plans, US officials are concerned by the interest shown by Chinese and Russian spy services in those companies. Are. US officials believe innovations by SpaceX, Blue Origin and other private companies have given the United States a huge advantage in space, the envy of foreign rivals.

Security measures vary greatly from company-to-company, and some US officials believe the space industry needs to tighten protections against infiltration attempts by Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies.

Since 2017, the Justice Department has charged Chinese, Russian and Iranian nationals in various schemes to steal space-related technology. Last October, five Russian nationals were charged with trying to illegally acquire “semiconductors and microprocessors used in satellites, missiles and other space-based military applications” from US companies. In 2019, a Chinese national was sentenced to federal prison for trying to acquire radiation-hardened power amplifiers used in space applications.

At the same time, some companies have disclosed the infiltration attempts. In 2020, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that puts several national security satellites into orbit, suggested that a Chinese firm had tried to infiltrate its supply chain. The supplier was not successful in extracting critical intelligence.

US officials also believe that rendering space-based communications and imaging satellites ineffective could be the opening step of any future conflict. As Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February last year, hackers joined the Russian government Cyber ​​attack against ViasatA US-based communications firm, in an effort to disrupt Ukraine’s ability to command its troops.

As the war progresses, the Russians focus Jamming satellites. SpaceX’s low-Earth orbit satellite network Starlink has also proved vital to Ukraine’s war effort.,

The warning issued on Friday urged companies to track unusual events on their computer networks to look for possible breaches, develop protocols to identify potential foreign agents inside the business, conduct due diligence on potential investors and, most importantly, intellectual property rights. Advises to give priority to the protection of property.

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