Space age perils: hackers find a new battleground on the final frontier

Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:17am EDT
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* Thousands of new satellites due to be launched

* New risks make space ventures more expensive

* Space already a $330-billion industry

By Ari Rabinovitch

JERUSALEM, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Space, the 'final frontier', is rapidly becoming an extra-terrestrial battleground for corporate espionage and other types of cyber attack as hackers seek to gain commercial advantage from rival networks operating in the $330-billion space economy.

At the same time, a mounting threat from orbiting junk hurtling through space and threatening spaceships and satellites is pushing up the cost of commercial ventures and could be a brake on future investment.

Industry-watchers say the many and varied challenges are driving up costs that might soon become prohibitive. But if the challenges are clear, hard solutions from the industry are few.

Three-quarters of investment in the space economy comes from the booming commercial sector that is attracting companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Facebook and Google, according to the nonprofit Space Foundation.

The amount of data now being beamed between satellites supporting commercial networks on earth is growing rapidly, making them a ripe target for cyber attacks, said Luca del Monte, a senior strategist at the European Space Agency, and one of many experts who attended the annual International Astronautical Congress last week in Israel.   Continued...