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Tokyo creating security guidelines for space systems

  • January 7, 2017
  • , Nikkei Asian Review , 6:12 am
  • English Press

The Japanese government intends to formulate security guidelines for agencies involved in the operation of satellites and other space systems.


Tokyo will focus mainly on the threat of disruptive attacks designed to hijack or jam signals, as it strives to develop countermeasures so space systems can continue to operate with at least minimal functionality even in the event of an attack.


This effort to put together a basic set of guiding principles by the end of the year will be spearheaded by the administration’s offices for strategic space development and national security.


The satellites, terrestrial base stations and other equipment that constitute space systems have become increasingly important infrastructure and need robust systems for maintenance, just like electricity, gas and telecommunication cables.


In Japan as elsewhere, these space systems now are found throughout the public and private sectors in a range of applications, from GPS navigation systems to the collection of weather information to broadcasting.


The Japan Meteorological Agency operates two of its Himawari series of weather satellites, so if one stops working the agency can still process weather information.


But other than that, Japan has little preparation for attacks on space systems.


The guidelines should help improve the situation. They will consider attacks designed to jam communications, attacks designed to impersonate the signals sent between satellites and base stations, and physical attacks on equipment.


More than countermeasures to prevent attacks, the effort will focus on the preparation of measures like backup systems that are designed to preserve and restore the infrastructure after it has been attacked.


Japan’s various government ministries and agencies will use these guidelines to evaluate the vulnerabilities of both the satellites they operate and the satellite systems operated by industries that fall under their jurisdictions. The agencies will also conduct joint drills of simulated attacks.

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