US Cyber Command recommends patching Baron Samedit vulnerability in Sudo.
Alphabet cancels its Loon satellite surrogate program.
Space situational awareness.
Rapid technology acquisition.
US Space Force under President Biden.
The US Navy and space operations.
US Space Command headquarters to move to Huntsville, Alabama.
US Space Force gets its rank structure.
Interest in satellites' vulnerabilities to cyberattack has grown, with the Air Force Research Laboratory's Hack-a-Sat white hat hacking competition marking a milestone in the field. Freethink offers an overview of some current thinking about the technology that could be applied to disrupting space operations by cyberattack.
Solorigate (the cyberespionage campaign commonly called "SolarWinds") update.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the threat actor behind the SolarWinds supply chain compromise (by consensus a Russian intelligence service, probably the SVR) will touch a very large number of victims. About a third of those affected by the incident don't use the afflicted SolarWinds Orion platform. CRN quotes industry sources to the effect that there's "no finish line"; for cleaning up after this campaign.
Acting CISA Director Wales said, according to the Journal, that the attackers "gained access to their targets in a variety of ways. This adversary has been creative. It is absolutely correct that this campaign should not be thought of as the SolarWinds campaign."; The threat actor was able to move from one cloud to another, exploiting small features of the various ways software authenticates itself on the Microsoft service.
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has published updated information on "several malicious artifacts, affecting the SolarWinds Orion product, which have been identified by the security company FireEye as SUPERNOVA."; Supernova, remember, isn't the malicious backdoor inserted into and propagated through the supply chain of SolarWinds' Orion platform. Rather, as CISA points out, "SUPERNOVA is not embedded within the Orion platform as a supply chain attack; rather, it is placed by an attacker directly on a system that hosts SolarWinds Orion and is designed to appear as part of the SolarWinds product. CISA's assessment is that SUPERNOVA is not part of the SolarWinds supply chain attack described in Alert AA20-352A.";
Their Malware Analysis Report includes descriptions and indicators of compromise that security teams should find useful. And, as usual, CISA concludes its report with a long list of best practices, briefly stated and easily understood.
US Cyber Command strongly recommends patching Sudo vulnerability.
US Cyber Command strongly recommends that organizations patch the Baron Samedit bug in Sudo, disclosed this month by Qualys researchers. Sudo is a widely used utility ("nearly ubiquitous,"; as Qualys puts it) found in Unix and Linux systems. Fixes for Baron Samedit are available, and Cyber Command advises companies to apply them.
Loon may have been technically sweet, but it seems to have been a business lead balloon.
Alphabet, Google's corporate parent, has shut down its Loon project, a technically successful demonstration of the potential for long-duration balloon-borne satellite surrogates to provide connectivity into remote, otherwise inaccessible locations. Seeking Alpha says that Loon's services were simply too expensive to be attractive to users. It's not the first case of the early cancellation of alternatives to communication satellites: Facebook's drone-based Aquila program, for example, was cancelled in 2018. Satellite surrogates seem unable to compete with the more promising small-satellite constellations coming online, SpaceX's Starlink being the most prominent example.
Loon, under development since 2013, enjoyed technical successes culminating in last year's demonstration of its ability to deliver Internet connectivity to users in Kenya. WIRED summarizes some of those accomplishments, and suggests that technologies developed for Loon may find application elsewhere. But for now it seems unlikely that companies will be able to send atmospheric systems to do a satellite's job.
Space situational awareness, Space Force, and the Intelligence Community.
Federal News Network describes the two squadrons that will form the core of Space Force's forthcoming National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC). The NSIC's core responsibility seems to be space situational awareness, which would be complementary to the National Reconnaissance Office's focus on earth observation. "One of the priorities is the matter of trying to develop capability that gives us a confirmation and competence and calls that we're making on the attributes of who's making an activity on orbit,"; Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, Air Force director of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, told Federal News Network. That mission will require more satellites and more ground-station capacity. "I just want to be able to make a more confident call and in a faster manner, so that I'd say one of my high priorities is being able to characterize the threats out there,"; Lauderback said.
The perennial challenge of rapid technology development and acquisition.
"Real-Time Global Awareness and Connectivity. This vector is primarily aligned with the NDSA's Transport and Navigation Layers and features capabilities enabling global access to low-latency communications and navigation information for Joint warfighters and warfighting systems, including but not limited to:
"Optical intersatellite links (OISL) – low size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C), freespace OISL terminals capable of high-bandwidth (>1 Gbps) data rates at relevant ranges (~5,000 km) that are compatible with the SDA OISL Open Standard (or identify known deviation(s) and recommended modification(s) to the open standard) and are capable of establishing and maintaining space-to-space, space-to-ground, and space-to-airborne for low-latency, high-bandwidth connectivity and precise and accurate ranging measurements
"Multi-beam / multi-user tactical data link connectivity – low-power antenna technologies enabling tactical data link connectivity with multiple users, especially in L Band, and including but not limited to active electronically scanned arrays (AESA)
"Flexible software-defined radios (SDR) – low-SWaP-C tactical data link SDRs with such capabilities as support for trusted on-orbit reconfiguration and multiple tactical data links within a single hardware and software architecture
"Advanced communications encryption – miniaturized, low-power NSA-approved Type I (Suite A) encryption solutions
"Direct-to-weapon data links – implementations of direct, low-latency connectivity to high-speed weapons, enabling receipt of weapon telemetry and transmission of in-flight target updates
"GPS-denied positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) – capabilities required to enable navigation and timing in GPS-denied environments, including communication systems, mass-producible low-SWaP atomic clocks, inertial navigation systems, star trackers, and other space navigation sensors"
Novel communication modalities – concepts and implementations involving novel communications phenomenologies or novel applications of mature communications techniques
"Tactical data link interoperability – concepts and implementations enabling tactical data link message translation and rebroadcast via alternate communication networks, including but not limited to Link 16 / Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) translation
"Advanced modems and networking – low-SWaP-C modem, router, and switch designs and implementations capable of high-throughput (>50 Gbps) modulation/demodulation and packet forwarding
"Optimized control of modulation techniques – dynamic, adaptive optimization of communications modulation technique selection and employment
"Comprehensive Space-Based Sensing. Aligned primarily with the Tracking, Custody, and future resilient space sensing layers of the NDSA, this vector enables detection, tracking, and targeting of adversary systems spanning multiple domains, with an emphasis on advanced missile threats and time-critical land and maritime targets. In addition, this vector spans the range of possible complementary missions with space-based sensors, including but not limited to space-based environmental monitoring (SBEM), space domain awareness, and battle damage assessment (BDA).
"Wide field of view (WFOV) overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) missile tracking – WFOV OPIR sensor technologies, including focal plane arrays, and processing techniques designed for operation in low Earth orbit
"Multi-INT fusion – algorithms, concepts, and systems that fuse multi-modal sensor data from systems spanning multiple domains to develop and maintain targeting solutions against time-sensitive targets, especially space-based fusion implementations
"Heterogeneous missile tracking architectures – OPIR missile warning and tracking architectures featuring sensors of different sensitivities, operating in different infrared bands, and deployed in different orbits
"Electronic support and protection – passive radio frequency (RF) sensing and processing implementations enabling spacecraft to gather intelligence from adversary emissions; electronic protection implementations that mitigate the effects of adversary electronic warfare techniques
"Automatic target recognition – automated, refined or emerging processes that classify objects of interest in sensor data feeds using trusted artificial intelligence and machine learning implementations
"Novel remote sensing phenomenologies – innovative distributed sensing concepts, novel sensing modalities, with applications to missile threat detection and tracking and surveillance of time critical targets.
"Space-based sensors in complementary missions – disruptive sensor system designs or dual-use applications of existing sensor payloads that enable valuable support missions, including the body SBEM missions (space weather, theater weather imagery (TWI), cloud characterization (CC), ocean surface vector winds (OSVW), etc.), space domain awareness, and BDA.
"Omniscient Command, Control, and Execution. This vector is aligned primarily with the Battle Management and Support Layers of the NDSA and includes algorithms, frameworks, and hardware supporting advanced processing, command and control, and seamless interoperability of architecture elements.
"Cyber defense of space data networks – architectures, protocols, and tools for layered cyber defense of the ground and space segment, with emphasis on adaptable, lightweight systems for malware and network intrusion detection, authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA); and security incident and event management (SIEM)
"Open interfaces and standards – open system interfaces and standards supporting integration of NDSA components developed by multiple vendors, as well as interoperability with external systems and users
"Software frameworks enabling on-orbit reprogramming – flexible software frameworks that enable software updates and reconfigurations to be published to space vehicles on orbit, including mechanisms for publishing and applying updates via existing communication links
"Automated, dynamic, and resilient networking and routing techniques – intelligent network management tools and routing policies that adapt to the current network topology and environmental conditions to maximize performance
"Radiation-hardened and radiation-tolerant advanced processing – highperformance, low-SWaP-C on-orbit processing capabilities such as rad-hard or radtolerant GPUs, CPUs, FPGAs or other components, hardware / software / firmware architectures, storage, and algorithms, including implementations supporting distributed processing
"Automated schedule optimization and sensor tasking – optionally AI-enabled algorithms and systems providing for automation of resource allocation and scheduling, including the prioritization of software processes, tasking of missile tracking and surveillance resources, and power cycling of payloads
"Seamless multi-level security (MLS) operations – robust MLS solutions that protect NDSA operations across heterogeneous platforms, multiple warfighting domains, and at multiple levels of security
"Cooperative maneuver – coordinated autonomous control of space vehicles and/or payloads to achieve a desired mission effect
"Distributed command and control in contested environments – distributed implementations of command and control capabilities supporting the development of operational plans and courses of action, selection of courses of action, and real-time adjustments to employment strategies"
Software, as usual, is an area in which rapid advance outpaces the speeds the acquisition system is normally capable of. C4ISRNET discusses the challenge with the Hudson Institute.
OTAs have long been seen as an avenue for bypassing the slow-moving, requirements-bound, and heavily litigated Defense acquisition system. But Other Transaction Authority awards, up 712% since 2015, according to Breaking Defense, are now receiving hostile scrutiny as a court case against Space Force contractor NSTXL proceeds.
Biden Administration likely to keep Space Force.
Military Times sees the bipartisan support Space Force has attracted in Congress as a strong indication that President Biden is unlikely to undo one of President Trump's signature policies. (The creation of Space Force was one of the achievements the former President discussed in his farewell address, Military Times reports elsewhere.) Space Force is also not the clown show some of its portrayals in popular culture suggest, but an organization intended to address serious national security challenges with significant capabilities. Defense News thinks the new Service fundamentally has a PR problem, and such problems often go into spontaneous remission.
The US Navy's interests in space operations and technologies.
With coverage of Air Force and Space Force dominating DoD space news, and with even the Army attracting attention for the mud service's efforts to bring connectivity from orbit to the warfighter, it might be easy to overlook the US Navy's long and continuing involvement in space technology and space operations. A quick look at PEO Space Systems, housed in the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, suggests the nature of the Navy's interests. These include "a legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) SATCOM system and is in the process of replenishing and replacing the legacy UHF SATCOM constellation with the Mobile User Objective System's (MUOS) Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) cellular technology." The Navy also supports work in nanosatellites and a variety of space science and technology programs.
Space headquarters' locations prove (inevitably) controversial.
Colorado's Congressional delegation has written President Biden to urge him to reconsider his predecessor's decision to move US Space Command's headquarters from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama. The move has been covered as surprising and unwarranted, but Huntsville, ancestral home of the US Army's Redstone Arsenal and Aviation and Missile Command, has a long history in rocketry and space operations, with an extensive infrastructure in place.
There's been some confusion in the coverage as well. Space Command is not to be confused with Space Force. The former is a unified combatant command, the latter a military Service.
Guardians get their ranks.
US Space Force has announced its rank structure. It's imported, except for the four most junior enlisted ranks and the forms of address for the two most senior noncommissioned officer ranks, from the Air Force. (Specialist is an Army rank, and "Chief" as a term of address suggests the Navy.) And the abbreviations are all in the Air Force style. The new rank structure takes effect today, February 1st, 2021.
Enlisted ranks (shown by grade, rank, abbreviation, and preferred forms of address).
E1, Specialist 1, Spc1, "Specialist" ("Spec 1," "Spec 2, "etc., are acceptable, but not preferred.)
E2, Specialist 2, Spc2, "Specialist"
E3, Specialist 3, Spc3, Specialist"
E4, Specialist 4, Spc4, "Specialist"
E5, Sergeant, Sgt, "Sergeant"
E6, Technical Sergeant, TSgt,"Sergeant" or "Technical Sergeant" or "Tech Sergeant"
E7, Master Sergeant, MSgt, "Sergeant" or "Master Sergeant"
E8, Senior Master Sergeant, SMSgt, "Senior" or "Senior Master Sergeant"
E9, Chief Master Sergeant, CMSgt, "Chief" or "Chief Master Sergeant"
E9, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, CMSSF, "Chief" or "Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force"
Commissioned officer ranks (shown by grade, rank, abbreviation, and preferred forms of address).
O1, Second Lieutenant, 2d Lt, "Second Lieutenant" or "Lieutenant"
O2, First Lieutenant, 1st Lt, "First Lieutenant" or "Lieutenant"
O3, Captain, Capt, "Captain"
O4, Major, Maj, "Major"
O5, Lieutenant Colonel, Lt Col, "Lieutenant Colonel" or "Colonel"
O6, Colonel, Col, "Colonel"
O7, Brigadier General, Brig Gen, "Brigadier General" or "General"
O8, Major General, Maj Gen, "Major General" or "General"
O9, Lieutenant General, Lt Gen, "Lieutenant General" or "General"
O10, General, Gen, "General"
A few things to note. First, Space Force went for anodyne, traditional ranks: no Sky Marshalls, no Millenars, no Spacecraft Riggers Second Class, alas. Second, there's no five-star rank in the table, no "General of the Space Force," which suggests that for the US military as a whole, five stars are firmly relegated to an artifact of the Second World War. And, finally, there are no warrant officer ranks, which seems a shame: if ever a Service seemed made for warrants, that is, for highly skilled specialists permitted to spend a career refining their craft as opposed to picking up generalist skills, it would seem to be Space Force.
One more note on Space Force culture: the Service's official march is still under preparation.
Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting NATO/OTAN, Russia, and the United States.
AFRL launches MUSTER program(Intelligence Community News) The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) launched the Multi-Spectral Sensing Technologies Research and Development (MUSTER) program.
MACOM and AFRL form CRADA(Intelligence Community News) Under the agreement, AFRL and MACOM will work together to transfer AFRL's production ready 0.14 micron GaN-on-SiC semiconductor process to MACOM's Massachusetts-based U.S. Trusted Foundry.
SDA seeks National Defense Space Architecture tech(Intelligence Community News) The U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) posted a broad agency announcement for National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA), Systems, Technologies, and Emerging Capabilities (STEC).
APG to host AI in DoD acquisitions symposium(Intelligence Community News) ACC APG's Source Selection Support Center of Excellence (S3CoE) will host its FY 21 Q~2 virtual symposium entitled Artificial Intelligence (AI) in DoD Acquisitions.
General Dynamics secures $695m US Army contract(Defence Connect) The prime is set to continue delivering critical mission support to the United States Army in Europe after being awarded a new $695 million contract. General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), a
Boeing's Space Business Delivers the Only Good News in a Grim FY 2020 Report(Via Satellite) Despite The Boeing Company's COVID-19 and 737 MAX aircraft-related woes, it's Defense, Space & Security division posted a 2020 Fourth Quarter (Q4) revenue increase of 14% year-over-year. The division brought in $6.8 billion in revenue from various fighter aircraft and satellite manufacturing contracts. This is
Lockheed Martin board elects chairman, strategic adviser, and Aeronautics executive VP(Aerotech News & Review) The Lockheed Martin Corporation board of directors has elected President and CEO James D. Taiclet as chairman of the board, effective March 1. Executive Chairman Marillyn A. Hewson informed the board of directors of her intention to retire as executive chairman and as a member of the board. "Marillyn provided leadership that helped us to implement a smooth and successful [ …]
NATO to grow pooled Space Centre in 2021(Janes.com) NATO plans to grow its recently established Space Centre, with the alliance telling Janes that further allies and personnel will be added throughout this year.
Space Force Reaches Out To New Partners– Eye On China(Breaking Defense) "Other areas we're looking for opportunities are also out in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, to develop new and different partnerships in space that we may not have enjoyed in other domains in the past," Gen. DT Thompson, vice chief of the Space Force, says.
Colorado Politicians Vow To Fight Huntsville Choice For SPACECOM(Breaking Defense) Several experts said the decision shouldn't be that big of a surprise, given that Huntsville had been poised to win the first contest -- in part due to its much lower cost of living, as well as plenty of available office and housing space.
Intelligence and the Biden Administration(War on the Rocks) After four...strange years, what can we expect from the Biden administration on the intelligence front? From key appointments to the strategic context,
Did The Space Force Just Ruin OTAs For Everyone?(Breaking Defense) Other Transaction Authority awards have soared 712 percent since 2015, helping jumpstart R&D, including on COVID vaccines. But now the Space Force's OTAs have been derailed by a court case against contractor NSTXL – and the whole OTA system is under fire.
Iridium, Lockheed Martin Join Group Calling for FCC to Stay Ligado Order(Via Satellite) Update: On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the FCC denied a request to stay the Ligado decision. " order imposed stringent conditions in order to protect incumbent users, including GPS services and Pentagon operations that operate outside this band, and the technical evidence in our record continues to demonstrate that the FCC