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The FBI, NCSC, and AFOSI issued a joint statement titled “Safeguarding the US Space Industry” and named Beijing and Moscow as the biggest threats.
The bulletin states “Space is fundamental to every aspect of our society, including emergency services, energy, financial services, telecommunications, transportation, food, and agriculture as they all rely on space services to operate.”
An official told Reuters that they “anticipate growing threats to this burgeoning sector of the US economy,” stating that China and Russia are among the leading foreign intelligence threats to the US space industry.
According to Cybernews, foreign threat actors are using cyberattacks to access sensitive US information for their own governments’ space programs. Intel officials say some methods used by the spies include requests to visit industry facilities and attending industry conferences to try and obtain confidential information.
The bulletin also tells US space companies to beware of foreign recruiters targeting individual employees with offers of overseas work and consultant positions, or even blatant offers to pay the employees directly in exchange for intellectual property.
Despite space espionage campaigns being nothing new, these counterintelligence warnings are rising as the US space industry increases its billions of dollars in spending to develop new rockets and other space technology. According to the report, foreign intelligence entities see US space-related innovation and assets as potential threats, as well as valuable opportunities to acquire vital technologies and expertise.
US authorities have claimed for years that Chinese hackers are targeting companies that are involved in aviation, space, and satellite technology, and even at one point gained access to computers at the NASA Goddard Space Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
US military officials claim that China has been clear on its intention to overshadow the US space program and become the world’s leader in space by 2045 as part of its military strategy. Nevertheless, China has responded by saying that its space program is for peaceful purposes.