Space, the final frontier for cyber security?

Plexal, in collaboration with Security Lancaster (an umbrella of Lancaster University’s Cyber Security activities), recently hosted a Space / Cyber security event to explore the dual risks in both domains and how the sectors can collaborate to overcome emerging threats to the booming commercial space sector.

It’s clear that cyber security challenges in the commercial space sector are gaining traction in Europe, so we brought together over 50 representatives from the international space and security sectors to discuss the wealth of opportunities opening up to businesses, as well as the national cyber security threats these opportunities may bring. 

Plexal’s Innovation Associate, Lydia Kerin, who helped deliver the event said: “We’re increasingly seeing a new kind of ecosystem emerging whereby SMEs and startups have the opportunities to be suppliers to the space sector, which was once the domain of only a select few. The recent fall in costs and complexity of acting in space has permitted the proliferation of commercial actors in the sector, resulting in this New Space era.

“As the UK Public Sector reshapes their procurement approach, there’s an expectation of increased partnering across the supply chain, and we anticipate that SMEs and startups will be the genesis for much of this innovative new technology across a wide range of missions.”

This transformative change presents a significant opportunity for the UK government to achieve the initiatives outlines in its UK Space Strategy

Lydia added: “One way the UK Government can achieve its goals is through identifying and working with SMEs across a range of sectors that are value additive to mission and policy. This will strengthen its own knowledge and application of the UK’s space-based capabilities.”

Held in Manchester’s Digital Security Hub (DiSH), the full-day event hosted a broad range of speakers and attendees alike, including government representatives, cyber and defence specialists, lawyers specialising in the space sector and many more.

Lydia concluded: “One thing which must be emphasised is the importance of keeping our space-based infrastructure cyber secure, including the data as it’s transmitted from space. That’s why we delivered this event alongside Security Lancaster, to close the gap between the two sectors.” 

Echoing this, Dr Sharon Lemac-Vincere from Lancaster University’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, who delivered the event said: “Some key takeaways from the discussions were that both the space and cyber sectors need to focus on including different skills in addition to technical expertise. This links in with the points participants made about there being a language barrier between cyber professionals and space professionals – there is a need for a common language in the space-cyber sphere.

“In my opinion, we are at a watershed moment as a nation; we are still small and agile enough to mandate cyber ‘secure by design’ protocols. This, I believe, could position the UK as the most secure space nation and provide a compelling proposition for international collaboration.” 

The success of Lancaster University’s research and training on issues relating to the safety and security of UK society led it to establish Security Lancaster. This Institute of Excellence integrates behavioural, management, social and technological research to address contemporary issues relating to the security of individuals, organisations and society. To read more, the Lancaster University blog is here.