Aschbacher: space is essential

Brussels 23.01.2023 In today’s online digital society the threats of cyberattacks are real, and the results can be seriously damaging. The space industry provides security services to the clients in Europe and North America for over a decade, and its effectiveness should not be underestimated, the ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said, while addressing press at margins of the XV European Space Conference in Brussels. (Image below: Josef Aschbacher and Samantha Cristoforetti)

The industry offers solutions to ensure resilience to escalating cyberattack risks, using unique software platforms, physical and virtual security services, and expert support, adapting solutions to each endowment profile and individual needs.

Most organisations are vulnerable to attacks on their data or networks in one or another way mainly through the Internet, but also through radio signals. Among them there might be the generic attacks targeting well-known weak spots, of some others, specifically directed against existing vulnerabilities.

Telecommunications might be interrupted, with signals being ‘jammed’, or satellite navigation system signals could be replaced with incorrect data, known as ‘spoofing’, when fraudsters pretend to be someone or something else to gain a person’s trust, while the motivation is usually to gain access to systems, steal data, steal money, or spread malware.

In course of time Europe is becoming more reliant on satellites, and space-based applications are becoming essential to a large amplitude of services on which our citizens and economies depend.

These range from navigation, broadcasting and weather forecasting to monitoring the health of the Earth climate and the conditions of land, oceans and inhabited areas.

ESA is investing efforts in cybersecurity not only within the Agency but also across Europe’s space sector, offering aid in making spaceflight more resilient to attack, and accelerate the integration of space systems and services into the terrestrial conventional economies.

The Agency is engaged to protect the interests of its Member States in the space technology domain, ensuring an adequate level of shielding of each space system and guaranteeing the uninterruptied availability, the integrity and the confidentiality of the information.

Cyber resilience is one of the  key security measures ESA has identified and prioritised within the framework of the Agency’s Cyber Security Policy. Both technology and expertise ESA is developing in this area are contributing to a secure environment and further economic and scientific developments.

In 2016, Josef Aschbacher was appointed as Director of Earth Observation Programmes, ESA’s largest Directorate, and as Head of ESRIN, ESA’s centre for Earth observation. Under his leadership, Europe developed the world’s leading Earth observation programme, which includes all Sentinel missions as part of the EU-led Copernicus programme, all meteorological missions for Eumetsat and the Earth Explorer, Scout and phi-sat missions developed for ESA Member States. In 2020, a total of 40 satellites were under development and ESA disseminated the world’s largest Earth observation data volumes.

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