The complex problem of identifying and mitigating cyber threats to space systems requires a comprehensive, unified and systematic policy solution to guide the efforts to protect space assets and services.
To this end, our research focuses on the following topics:
This work explores a new paradigm for space event characterization using hard and soft data. Here, hard data is data yielded by physics-based sensing mechanisms such as a telescopes or radar. Soft information is denoted by human-derived or semantically-derived information, such as HUMINT and OSINT. By fusing both hard and soft sources, a more accurate and reliable system can be developed to characterize space events, and also predict events in order to protect assets by directly commanding and controlling space assets to mitigate intentional and non-intentional threats.
One of the most challenging aspects in assessing the space operational picture (SOP) is that it is difficult for both humans and machines to interface effectively with the plethora of available sensor and multi-INT data in order to make decisions in a timely manner. To that end, effective technologies for supporting protection of U.S. space assets must provide for clear and effective dissemination of complex information to end users. This is especially vital for space cyber security.
Space cyber security needs to be tackled from a holistic approach, which also encompass Big Data aspects. This is bolstered by the fact that there over 2,500 active satellites in orbit today. Part of the goal of our research involves developing interoperable data systems, and exploiting the role played by ontologies in the creation of such systems. Ontologies that include precise definitions of the terms and relations used in the space domain are necessary to ensure consistency and interoperability across the complex of systems for space cyber defense and threat mitigation. Our suite of space ontologies, which ranges from the satellite physics to geopolitical climate, will be used to develop an encompassing SOP for potential nefarious activities. With the creation of a proper and cohesive space cyber security ontology, members of the space cyber security community across the globe can efficiently communicate on the basis of a shared understanding of terms and a common basis for exchange and analysis of data.
The center will work closely with CUBRC, the UB-based National Center for Ontological Research (NCOR), with the Ontology Working Group of the DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), and with other bodies involved in creating ontologies to support interoperability across real-world data and information systems. The center will play a leading role in creating the new Space Cyber Ontology, which will be based on the Cyber Ontology currently under development by the International Committee for Information Technology Standards Mid-Level Ontology working group (INCITS 573-1-202x).
We will exploit UB’s demonstration Ground Station system, which is part of the UB Nanosatellite Laboratory, to create a virtual laboratory that can be used by qualified academic researchers, DoD contractors and others to participate in cyberattack and cyber defense challenge contests and hackathons. We will collect all the data resulting from these challenges to create a repository of cyber-relevant synthetic satellite-ground station system communication data under different levels of cyber-protection to enable wargaming and bench-testing of different strategies for collection and protection of space communications data in different sorts of mission context.
In addition, our center builds on an already developed foundation of extensive prior research in the cyber defense domain, which leverages tools from UB’s Center for Multisource Information Fusion.