With the growth of the global space economy expected to reach more than $1 trillion by 2030, the FBI – alongside the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations – is warning that adversaries will leverage cyberattacks to gain access to the U.S. space industry.
“Foreign intelligence entities (FIEs) recognize the importance of the commercial space industry to the US economy and national security, including the growing dependence of critical infrastructure on space-based assets,” the Federal entities wrote in a recent bulletin.
The document explains that the global space economy is projected to grow from $469 billion in 2021 to more than $1 trillion by 2030. The United States, the three agencies said, is the main driver of this growth through its role as a global leader in space investment, research, innovation, and production.
“Space is fundamental to every aspect of our society, including emergency services, energy, financial services, telecommunications, transportation, and food and agriculture. All rely on space services to operate,” the bulletin reads.
The intelligence agencies warned that FIEs see U.S. space-related innovation and assets as potential threats – as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies and expertise.
“FIEs use cyberattacks, strategic investment (including joint ventures and acquisitions), the targeting of key supply chain nodes, and other techniques to gain access to the US space industry,” they said.
The three agencies warned that FIE efforts to target and exploit the U.S. space industry can harm global competition, national security, and economic security throughout the nation – including disrupting and degrading U.S. satellite communications, remote sensing, and imaging capabilities and exploiting critical resources and supply chain dependencies.
The bulletin provides indicators that foreign intelligence operators might be targeting a U.S. business. For example, unsolicited offers to establish joint ventures, attempts to recruit a company’s technical experts, and provision of financial incentives in exchange for proprietary information are potential signs that a business is being targeted.
Some mitigation efforts the agencies provided for U.S. businesses include establishing an insider threat program, building resiliency into operations, and identifying their organization’s “crown jewels,” among others.