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  • Voltaire Staff

NASA releases guide to secure space missions



NASA has released a space guide with a view to help nations enhance the reliability and safety of space missions and ensure that both spacecraft and ground control systems are safe.


The Space Security: Best Practices Guide, or BPG, released on December 22, follows principles and rules from a well-known security standard (NIST SP 800-53) and helps translate them into language that NASA missions can easily understand.


According to the report, the guide outlines principles and applicable controls covering both the space vehicle and ground segment, drawing from security controls defined in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53.


Serving as a bridge between NIST terminology and NASA's flight project language, the BPG aims to provide achievable principles suitable for missions of varied sizes, scopes, and affiliations, be it international, corporate, or university-based.


The principles address vulnerabilities that could hamper mission success and serves as an initial reference point to counteract attempts to undermine information and technology crucial for accomplishing NASA mission success.


Misty Finical, deputy principal advisor for enterprise protection at NASA, said, "This guide represents a collective effort to establish a set of principles that will enable us to identify and mitigate risks and ensure the continued success of our missions, both in Earth’s orbit and beyond."


In March 2022, an audit report of NASA's cybersecurity readiness against insider threats raised concerns about the agency's vulnerability due to inadequate protection for unclassified information.


While NASA has effectively implemented defences to safeguard classified information, which includes national security data designated as Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret, the report claimed that the majority of NASA's technology, including high-value assets and critical infrastructure, falls outside the classified realm.


The audit revealed a substantial increase in incidents of improper use of NASA IT systems, growing from 249 in 2017 to 1,103 in 2020, with common errors involving the mishandling of Sensitive but unclassified (SBU) information.

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