Signals & Space Monthly Cyber Security Briefing

January 2019

Prepared by the CyberWire (Wednesday, January 2, 2019)

Russia escalates hybrid war against Ukraine.

Late in November Russian units engaged and took possession of three small Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews as the Ukrainian ships sought to operate in what are generally recognized as the international waters of the Sea of Azov. Tensions remained high in December, as both countries announced their intention of increasing their naval presence around the Russian occupied Crimean peninsula, seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Continued Russian naval action in the Sea represents, as the New York Times puts it, the "slow throttling" of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Russian action against Ukraine suggests to many observers that Moscow's territorial ambitions extend to the Black Sea as a whole, and European policymakers are particularly concerned about the conflict in the region. Hacked diplomatic cables from EU sources released in mid-December indicate widespread concern in European foreign ministries that Russia may have introduced nuclear weapons into the occupied Crimea. (The hacking itself has been attributed by many to Chinese intelligence services, but such attribution remains circumstantial.)

Ukraine has increased its electronic warfare capabilities in the region, and, in a gesture of warning toward Russia, the US has resumed Open Skies flights in Ukrainian airspace.

Conflict in Syria.

US President Trump has announced his intention of pulling US forces out of Syria on the grounds that the defeat of ISIS has been accomplished. Early announcements indicated an immediate withdrawal, but these have subsequently been clarified to specify that, first, US forces would remain in Iraq, adjacent to Syria and capable of swift intervention if required, second, that US air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria would continue, and finally that the withdrawal would be phased and gradual, taking several months.

The decision is thought to have been prompted by a mix of concerns about war-weariness, by a conviction that ISIS is indeed finished, and, probably most importantly, a desire to avoid becoming embroiled in a conflict with Turkey, whose forces are engaged with Kurdish separatists along the border that country shares with Syria. 

Syrian President Assad has invited Iranian forces to take action against ISIS. The conflict has many parties with very different interests. Tactically it continues to present a complex and advanced electronic warfare environment.

The President's decision to remove ground forces from Syria prompted the resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis, whom the President asked to move on earlier than Secretary Mattis's announced February departure. Patrick Shanahan assumed responsibilities as acting Secretary of Defense on the last day of 2018. A permanent replacement has yet to be named.

Satellite security and insecurity.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 put a next-generation GPS satellite into orbit on December 23rd. The new GPS satellites are designed to be more secure, more jam-resistant than their predecessors. There have been demonstrations of kinetic anti-satellite weapons by both the US and China, but the more probable threat is cyber attack, and it's such an attack that GPS III is particularly designed to fend off. It also signals a further convergence of cyber operations and electronic warfare.

The Air Force is also advancing plans for hardening the Wideband Global satcom system against cyberattack. This work concentrates on software and ground stations, and is intended to meet security requirements the Air Force believes cannot be filled by commercial systems.

Hypersonic weapons, undersea nuclear devices.

Russia this month announced development of two new weapon systems which it maintains represent a distinct advance in strategic capabilities that will guarantee the country's defense for "decades." 

The first is a hypersonic missile, fast enough, according to the Kremlin’s press agents, to render missile defense systems (and particularly US missile defense systems) ineffective and obsolete. Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov described the “Avangard” glide vehicle as capable of Mach 27. A test shot on December 26th launched from a site in the Urals is said to have hit its target on the Kura range in Kamchatka, some 3700 miles distant. 

Avangard is boosted by a UR-100UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missile (NATO code name SS-19 Stiletto). Unlike a ballistic missile, which follows a predictable trajectory, the Avangard is said to be capable of following a complicated flight path. Russian commentators called its motion chaotic—obviously chaotic within limits, if the claims of hitting its target are true—comparing its changes in course and altitude to a stone skipping across water.

The range achieved gives the system strategic reach, within the common understanding of the term. There’s no word on payload, but if one considers that Cold War nuclear weapons had been sufficiently miniaturized to be place in 203 mm or even 155 mm cannon shells, Avangard wouldn’t need to carry much to represent a strategic threat.

The other system is an undersea one, in effect an armed autonomous underwater vehicle. The Russians call this one Poseidon, formerly known as the Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System ("Kanyon," in rumored NATO nomenclature). The Russian Navy announced on December 25th that it was carrying out sea trials of the new submarine-borne system. Poseidon might be thought of as a nuclear torpedo designed for use against coastal targets. It’s been the subject of much speculation since September 2015, when reports began to circulate of a “city-buster” carrying weapons with yields in the ten-megaton range. So, a claimed city-killer, perhaps one capable, say the more breathless reports, of inducing an artificial tsunami that could wreak widespread devastation.

Avangard and Poseidon are both the stuff of Cold War, Strangelovian nightmares, and it’s good to remember that most of those nightmares never became reality. A great deal of secrecy surrounds Russian weapon development, and such information as is released tends to be as much an influence operation as are the traditional parades of missiles through Red Square. Good enough to frighten defense intellectuals about a missile gap, maybe, but not necessarily a realistic threat. Decades of guaranteed military superiority is a tall order, and such claims should be received with an open but skeptical mind. Still, both Avangard and Poseidon will bear watching.

Non-proliferation and arms control agreements.

The US has received support from its NATO allies concerning allegations of Russian cheating that accompanied the US announcement that it intended to withdraw from the agreement in response to a long history of Russian evasion and noncompliance. Iran continues to present proliferation concerns. In the case of Tehran there's less unity of opinion about whether carrots in the form of engagement or sticks in the form of tighter sanctions are likelier to move the Islamic Republic away from its widely feared nuclear ambitions. And there are signs from Pyongyang of nuclear brinksmanship, some it apparently designed to achieve some asymmetrical leverage over its long-time but ambivalent sponsor, China.

Space Force approaches.

US policy on the creation of a Space Force approached more clarity this month. Two related, but distinct, developments offer some indication of the direction Department of Defense space operations will take. 

The first development involved creation of a unified Space Command, an operational command analogous to other combatant commands, like Strategic Command or Cyber Command. Such a unified command is familiar within the established context of US force structures, and in itself does not amount to a distinct service. It is, instead, a command that reports to the National Command Authority and can incorporate elements of any of the existing military services. President Trump’s executive order, signed on December 18th, in fact re-establishes a command that existed between 1985 and 2002.

Space Force is also coming, and that’s a different matter. The Space Force will be lodged within the Department of the Air Force, where it will be run by an Assistant Secretary who reports directly to the Secretary of the Air Force. The Space Force Chief of Staff is expected to receive a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with the Service heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

The organizational construct strongly suggests that the Space Force will bear some institutional resemblance to the Marine Corps, a Naval Service lodged within the Department of Navy but distinct from the Navy itself. Estimates place the annual Space Force budget at between $300 million and $500 million. The Department of Defense says it's committed to lean overhead for the new Service, but think tanks are speculating about recruiting, doctrine, acquisition, schools, and so on. A memorandum said to circulating and close to approval reportedly says, "The Space Force shall be organized, trained and equipped to provide for freedom of operations in, from and to the space domain for the United States and its allies” and “to provide independent military options for joint and national leadership and to enable the lethality and effectiveness of the joint force.” The new Service will have combat and combat support functions to enable prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations and joint operations in all domains." Space Force will have both active and reserve components.

Congress will still have something to say about the matter. Some Senators remain cool to the idea.

JEDI protests.

Oracle and Amazon are getting ready to square off in the US Court of Federal Claims over the Defense Department's very large ($10 billion) JEDI cloud contract. Amazon, widely regarded by the industry as having the inside track on JEDI, has joined the Federal Government as a defendant in the suit Oracle has brought to protest the contract.

A new moon race?

China has dispatched an unmanned mission, including a surface rover, to the dark side of the moon. It's a piece of technical virtuosity, and a matter of national pride. It also comes at a time of increased US plans for a return to the moon. Observers suggest that the Chinese mission and the US plans indicate an incipient moon race.

Concerns about industrial espionage.

The US is rumored, as 2018 closed, to be considering an emergency ban on equipment from China's Huawei and ZTE on the grounds that the manufacturers are too close to Chinese intelligence services, and therefore to those services' programs of industrial espionage. 

Such concerns have also been felt in the aerospace marketplace. Boeing cancelled plans to build satellites with Global IP, a Los Angeles start-up that had been funded by the Chinese government. Boeing backed out of the arrangement over concerns that the arrangement amounted to little more than a workaround to get past export controls, and that it would have place sensitive Boeing intellectual property at risk.



Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting China, the European Union, France, Colombia, Iran, NATO/OTAN, Russia, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Selected Reading

Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities (33)

Trends (2)

Marketplace (21)

Products, Services, and Solutions (14)

Technologies, Techniques, and Standards (20)

Design and Innovation (2)

Research and Development (11)

Legislation, Policy, and Regulation (31)

Litigation, Investigation, and Law Enforcement (2)

Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities

Russia says its new weapon is 27 times faster than the speed of sound (Military Times) The new weapon “essentially makes missile defenses useless,” an official said.

Russia begins testing underwater nuclear weapon and "nothing" can stop it, report says (Newsweek) A defense source told Russian state media that "the underwater trials of the nuclear propulsion unit of the Poseidon drone are underway."

Gatwick chaos: drone attack farce (Times) The Gatwick airport investigation descended into farce last night after police said it was possible that no drones had been there in the first place. The officer leading the inquiry caused...

Gatwick drones pair 'no longer suspects' (BBC News) A man and woman are released as police say 67 reports of drone sightings are being investigated.

After Gatwick chaos, UK minister says detection systems can combat... (Reuters) Britain's security forces have detection systems that can be deployed throu...

Welcome to Russia's Hybrid War in the Sea of Azov (The National Interest) Doubtful that Kremlin planners would commit to a full-scale land invasion, Moscow is likely attempting to use the Sea of Azov as a stepping stone to further develop their interests in the Black Sea

Russia widens ban on Ukrainian products due to 'unfriendly acts by Kiev' (Euronews) Russia bans chocolate, beer and nappies made in Ukraine, in its latest economic sanctions on Kiev

Russia Slowly Throttles a Ukrainian Port (New York Times) When Russia fired on Ukrainian naval vessels, some say it was looking to rewrite the rules in the Sea of Azov and possibly elsewhere, just as China has done in the South China Sea.

Ukraine Returns Electronic Warfare Choppers To Service Amid Fears Of War With Russia (The Drive) Jamming systems have already been a major component of the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-supported separatists.

Ukraine plans another naval foray into Sea of Azov (Navy Times) Oleksandr Turchynov, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said another mission is necessary to prevent Russia from claiming control over the body of water.

Russian warship en route to Azov Sea from Crimea - Reuters witness (AF) A Russian missile frigate is moving in the direction of the Azov Sea from Crimea...

Moscow might have nukes in Crimea, hacked EU cables warn (Boing Boing) Moscow might have nukes in Crimea, hacked EU cables warn

Hacked European Cables Reveal a World of Anxiety About Trump, Russia and Iran (New York Times) The cables quote China’s president calling America a bully, show concerns about Russian nuclear weapons in Crimea and detail the White House walking back President Trump’s words.

Syria’s Assad authorizes Iraqi forces to strike ISIS in Syria (Military Times) Syrian President Bashar Assad authorized Iraqi forces on Sunday to attack the Islamic State group inside Syria without waiting for permission from authorities in Damascus, the state news agency SANA said, as the two allies coordinate their fight against extremists ahead of a planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

US-led anti-ISIS coalition announces Syria strikes after Trump orders withdrawal (TheHill) The U.S.-led military coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced Tuesday airstrikes and coordinated attacks against the terrorist group’s strongholds in Syria, days after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of

U.S. forces will stay in Iraq and could reenter Syria from there, Trump says (Washington Post) During his surprise holiday visit to troops in Iraq, the president said American forces there won’t withdraw.

US troops are leaving, but ISIS is not defeated in Syria (Military Times) Pulling troops out of Syria is

Here’s what may be driving a US troop withdrawal from Syria (Military Times) A confrontation between the U.S and Turkey, officially NATO allies, would create a geopolitical crisis at the heart of the world’s most powerful military alliance.

Troops to immediately withdraw from Syria as Trump declares victory over ISIS (Military Times) Pentagon officials did not immediately confirm reports that Trump has ordered a total withdrawal of troops.

Trump delays US troop withdrawal from Syria (Times) President Trump has rowed back from his surprise announcement that he would pull American troops swiftly out of Syria, saying that the plan would instead be implemented “slowly”. Mr Trump told...

Mattis signs order to withdraw US troops from Syria (Military Times) Mattis signed the order to withdraw from Syria, a plan he opposed and reportedly resigned over.

ISIS Could Rise Again (Foreign Affairs) The victory over ISIS is incomplete: the group could resurrect its caliphate where it was born, in Iraq and Syria.

Houston, we've had a problem: NASA fears internal server hacked, staff personal info swiped by miscreants (Register) Another leak, this time it's personal. Plus: Trump launches Space Force, er, Command

Potential Personally Identifiable Information (PII ) Compromise of NASA Servers (SpaceRef) Potential Personally Identifiable Information (PII ) Compromise of NASA Servers - SpaceRef

Cybersecurity failures raise threat of 'deadly missile attacks,' Pentagon watchdog says (NBC News) An inspector general's report finds unencrypted thumb drives, classified servers without locks on them and unrepaired computer bugs going back to 1990.

Technical Data on U.S. Missile Defense System Lacks Adequate Protections, DoD Says (SecurityWeek) Security controls and processes necessary to protect ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) technical information and the United States Department of Defense (DoD) facilities haven’t been properly implemented, a newly published audit report reveals.

Satellite photos reveal Russian bombers in Venezuela (Defense News) These two satellite photos, provided by DigitalGlobe, show four Russian military aircraft in Venezuela.

Is US military cloud safe from Russia? (BBC News) The BBC investigates a $10bn (£8bn) Pentagon contract to store sensitive data in a cyber-cloud.

New satellite images reveal activity at unidentified North Korean missile base (CNN) New satellite images obtained exclusively by CNN reveal North Korea has significantly expanded a key long-range missile base located in the mountainous interior of the country, offering yet another reminder that diplomatic talks with the US have done little to prevent Kim Jong Un from pursuing his promise to mass produce and deploy the existing types of nuclear warheads in his arsenal.

Senior Chinese military official urges PLAN t... | Taiwan News (Taiwan News) The Chinese tabloid Global Times hosted a conference in Beijing, Saturday, Dec. 8 which featured bellicose statements concerning Taiwan and the US.Chinese media reports that the situation in the South China Sea is expected grow more intense over the coming year, with one senior military official also declaring that China should be prepared to attack United States naval vessels, should the U.S. violate Chinese “territorial waters.”

In warning to Russia, US flies Open Skies aircraft over Ukrainian territory (Defense News) Technically, the flight was

Ukraine demands sailors’ release by Russia (Navy Times) The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday voted to withdraw from a wide-ranging treaty on friendship with Russia, the latest step in escalating tensions between the two neighbors.

Blurry satellite photos of military bases reveal more than they hide (C4ISRNET) For facilities in Israel and Turkey, hiding bases provides insecurity through obscurity.


Someone is trying to take entire countries offline and cybersecurity experts say 'it's a matter of time because it's really easy' (Business Insider) The West's biggest security weakness is in the old electronics and sensors that control processes in infrastructure and industry.

The 21 scariest data breaches of 2018 (Business Insider) Millions of people had their personal information compromised this year in data breaches. See which companies were hit the hardest.


Lockheed Martin scores a big win in new Missile Defense Agency radar contract (C4ISRNET) The radar will support ballistic missile defense systems intended to protect Hawaii from ballistic missile strikes.

Air Force asks Lockheed Martin to build three more LRASM anti-ship missile systems for high-priority targets (Military & Aerospace Electronics) U.S. Air Force airborne weapons experts are adding to an order of the next-generation AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) for use against high-priority enemy targets like aircraft carriers, troop transport ships, and guided-missile cruisers

Northrop Grumman to Provide Advanced Electronic Warfare Simulation and Training Capability to US Air Force (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has received a $450 million, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract award to deliver Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) systems to the United States Air Force. The JTE offers...

Northrop Grumman Wins $3.6 Billion Defense Contract (TheStreet) Deal would support the Air Force and complete by 2025

General Atomics, Raytheon contracted for Reaper drone support (UPI) General Atomics and Raytheon have been awarded contracts for the MQ-9 Reaper for sensors and overall program support worth a total of more than $350 million

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Is Raising $500 Million in Funding (Wall Street Journal) Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, is set to raise $500 million at a $30.5 billion valuation, in a bid to help get its internet service business off the ground.

How these cybersecurity standards could make life easier for contractors (Fifth Domain) New standards presented by the Aerospace Industries Association make it easier for contractors to explain their cybersecurity standards to different contractors.

How a court battle between Amazon and Oracle could shape the Pentagon’s cloud computing (Washington Post) A long-running dispute over the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud-computing effort is coming to a head in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

AWS signs on to defend itself in Oracle’s JEDI RFP lawsuit against US government (TechCrunch) Just when you didn’t think there could be any more drama over the Pentagon’s decade long, $10 billion JEDI contract RFP, the plot thickened again last week when Amazon Web Services (AWS) joined the US government as a defendant in Oracle’s lawsuit over the Pentagon’s handling…

Oracle takes its JEDI protest to Court of Federal Claims (Federal News Network) After losing its case before the Government Accountability Office, Oracle is taking its protest of DoD's huge cloud procurement to the Court of Federal Claims

Mercury Systems Receives $2.9M Follow-On Order for Advanced GPS SAASM Devices (Nasdaq) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, announced it received a $2.9M follow-on order from a leading electronics manufacturer for state-of-the-art GPS Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Modules (SAASM) devices for an undisclosed application.

Boeing Was Going to Build Satellites for a China-Funded Firm. Why It Just Backed Out of the Deal (Fortune) It's suspected that technology on the Global IP satellite may have ended up with the Chinese military.

Boeing Backs Out of Global IP Satellite Order Financed by China (Wall Street Journal) Boeing said it was canceling a controversial satellite order that was financed by a Chinese government-owned firm, citing default for nonpayment.

China Maneuvers to Snag Top-Secret Boeing Satellite Technology (Wall Street Journal) The founders of a small Los Angeles company, which ordered a satellite from Boeing, say the firm was financed and is now controlled by China, in violation of rules designed to keep such technology out of Beijing’s hands. Some worry China could use the technology for military purposes.

Thales Alenia Space to build four radar satellites for South Korea - ( European satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space said Dec. 5 it signed separate contracts with Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Hanwha Systems Corp. to develop four high-resolution radar satellites for South Korea’s Agency for Defence Development.

BAE to Help Integrate, Sustain Navy C5ISR Systems Under Two IDIQs Worth $151M Total - GovCon Wire (GovCon Wire) BAE Systems has secured positions on two indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts worth mor

The old guard may be turning against the Russian space program (Ars Technica) "In recent years, the leaders are blowing more smoke than doing anything substantive."

Air Force wants acquisition to take weeks, not years (Federal News Network) The Air Force believes it's proved the value of agile software development via its Kessel Run project. The next task is to spread it across the service.

Northrop Grumman Announces New $3 Billion Share Repurchase Authorization (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today that its board of directors has authorized an additional $3 billion for the repurchase of the company's common stock, increasing the outstanding authorized amount...

Mark Aslett Elected to Aerospace Industries Association Executive Committee (Nasdaq) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, announced that Mark Aslett, President and Chief Executive Officer, was elected to a three-year term on the Executive Committee of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) beginning in 2019.

Launch of new GPS satellite marks milestone in Colorado aerospace (Denver Business Journal) The launch debuts satellite and software built by Lockheed Martin Space, Raytheon Co.

Products, Services, and Solutions

SpaceX cancels first U.S. national security mission (WSAU) Elon Musk's SpaceX halted on Wednesday the long-delayed launch of a navigation satellite for the U.S. military, failing to complete its first designated national security mission for the United States due to a technical issue with its rocket. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a roughly $500 million global position...

Weather and technical issues forced multiple launch scrubs Tuesday, but... (Ars Technica) Four launches are possible from the Americas, and one from India.

Watch Blue Origin Launch a Rocket Stuffed With NASA Gear (WIRED) On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos' space company will send its New Shepard rocket aloft carrying nine NASA payloads on a suborbital flight.

Virgin Galactic finally made it to space. Here's what that means. (MSN) It's not just a big deal for future space tourists, either. 

Harris says first cubesat performing well in orbit ( Harris Corp.’s first small satellite, a six-unit cubesat, is fully operational, receiving commands and transmitting information to the satellite operations center in Palm Bay, Florida.

Branson’s Virgin reaches edge of space ( The latest test flight by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic successfully rocketed to the edge of space and back. The firm’s SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship reached a height of 82.7km, beyond the altitude at which US agencies have awarded astronaut wings. It marked the plane’s fourth test flight and followed earlier setbacks in the firm’s space programme.

First Lockheed Martin-Built GPS III Satellite Encapsulated for Dec. 18 Launch (PR Newswire) The U.S. Air Force's first Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-built GPS III satellite is now encapsulated for its...

Watch Rocket Lab launch 10 cubesats into orbit tonight for NASA (TechCrunch) It's been just over a month since Rocket Lab's inaugural (and long-delayed) commercial launch, "It's Business Time," and it's about to take another customer to space: NASA. Tonight's 8PM scheduled launch will take 10 small satellites to orbit as part of NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (…

Harris Corp. is tapping into the growing small satellite market with its first smallsat (Orlando Sentinel) Harris Corporation has successfully launched and communicated with its first small satellite — called HSAT for Harris small satellite, — which is currently in low Earth orbit after launching from India on Nov. 28.

After 26 straight successes, SpaceX fails to land Falcon 9 it wanted back (Ars Technica) "Some landing systems are not redundant."

SpaceX launches 2.5 tons of cargo to the ISS, but ... [Updated] (Ars Technica) So far, there have been 101 orbital launches this year, with more to come.

Reused rocket takes off carrying 64 satellites (Air Force Times) A SpaceX rocket carrying 64 small satellites lifted off from California on Monday, marking the first time the same Falcon 9 rocket has been used in three space missions.

SpaceX Accidentally Sent Its Booster Into the Ocean (WIRED) On its 20th flight this year, SpaceX failed to set its booster down on a landing pad. But this rare mishap also showed how many things went well.

Mercury Systems Unveils RES Trust Rackmount Trusted Computing Product Line (Nasdaq) New EnterpriseSeries servers feature trusted supply chains and built-in security options in support of DoD Defense Exportability Features initiative

Technologies, Techniques, and Standards

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft just visited the farthest object ever explored (Washington Post) Scientists rang in the new year with a flyby of Ultima Thule, a far-flung space rock that may hold clues to the earliest days of our solar system.

SpaceX launches Air Force’s best GPS yet, ends banner year (Air Force Times) SpaceX has launched the U.S. Air Force’s most powerful GPS satellite ever built.

GPS III and the demands of a dangerous new space age (C4ISRNET) Powerful anti-jamming capabilities on the just-launched GPS III satellite acknowledge the vulnerability of our biggest targets in orbit.

The Air Force targeted its own personnel to see if they could 'recognize and thwart' cyberattacks (Business Insider) In an effort to test their awareness, the Air Force went after its own personnel with a hard-to-detect technique that can compromise networks.

Air Force begins to roll out special cyber defense teams (Fifth Domain) Major commands will begin staffing new mission defense teams that focus on preventing cyberattacks.

New Army AI is cutting through data-choked battlefields (C4ISRNET) Army units are getting electronic warfare prototypes with new artificial intelligence capabilities.

New Delhi launches satellite for use by Indian Air Force (Jane's 360) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a communication satellite on 19 December designed to “significantly enhance” the network-centric and communication capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF), officials have told Jane’s . The GSAT-7A communication satellite,

A SpaceX Booster Went for a Swim and Came Back as Scrap Metal (WIRED) The space company spent several days retrieving and inspecting a rocket booster that made an unplanned ocean landing. Now it appears to be toast.

France launches military imaging satellite. Who’s involved, and what it can do? (Defense News) France has launched the first of three identical military imaging satellites, which, when they reach full operational capability at the end of 2021, will replace the aging Helios system.

Opinion | We have the technology to build a colony on the moon. Let’s do it. (Washington Post) It’s time we think bold about space exploration again.

Northrop Grumman Successfully Tests Orion Spacecraft’s Launch Abort Motor (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) along with NASA and Lockheed Martin successfully performed a ground firing test of the abort motor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS) at Northrop Grumman’s...

NATO to send Kiev signals equipment after latest Ukraine-Russia spat (Reuters) NATO will supply Ukraine's military with secure communication equipment thi...

Army seeks to take on adversaries before all-out conflict (C4ISRNET) In order to be successful in the future against near peer adversaries, the U.S. must contest opponents in the competition phase below the threshold of armed conflict.

Successful test for Harris Corp.'s 'small' satellite technology (Florida Today) Successful test for Harris Corp.'s 'small' satellite technology

Here’s the latest on Lockheed’s massive long-range anti-ballistic missile radar (Defense News) Lockheed's gigantic long-range discrimination radar is proceeding on track for a 2020 debut in Alaska.

The SpaceX 'Clown Car' Launch Actually Worked—Here's How (WIRED) Go behind the scenes with Spaceflight Industries, the space travel agency of sorts that coordinated a jam-packed Falcon 9 flight earlier this week.

A SpaceX Delivery Capsule May Be Contaminating the ISS (WIRED) Contamination sensors have spiked after several SpaceX arrivals at the International Space Station, suggesting that ISS instruments could be at risk.

Colombian Air Force operates first nano-satellite (Jane's 360) The Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana: FAC) now operates its first nano-satellite, FACSAT-1, after a successful launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, on 28 November.

Is near-instant satellite imagery almost here? (C4ISRNET) Intelligence analysts and soldiers on the battlefield could have access to near real-time imagery from commercial satellites as soon as 2021 thanks to new industry partnerships.

Northrop Grumman Technologies Support NASA’s InSight Mars Lander (Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Six months after launch, NASA’s newest Mars explorer, InSight, made its dramatic entrance to the red planet on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 at 2:52 p.m. EST. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will...

Design and Innovation

Why the Pentagon’s cyber innovation could fall behind (Fifth Domain) A new paper argues that cyber innovation will struggle amid growing conflict with China and Russia.

What the future of artificial intelligence means for cybersecurity (Fifth Domain) Two new papers give an insight into how artificial technology will be used for cybersecurity in the future.

Research and Development

Air Force to accelerate deployment of anti-jam satellite communications equipment - ( Navy aircraft carrier strike groups will get the new technology in 2022, about 18 months sooner than previously planned.

US Spies Want to Know How to Spot Compromised AI (Defense One) What if you were training an AI, and an adversary slipped a few altered images into its study set?

The Army wants new tools to sense, disrupt and protect signals (C4ISRNET) An industry day centered on signals intelligence and electronic warfare will take place in January.

Dragon shows off its new, integrated solar arrays as SpaceX nears first flight (Ars Technica) Confidence is increasing for a January flight of the first Dragon 2 mission.

Voyager 2 Joins Its Twin in Interstellar Space (Motherboard) The probe crossed the heliopause, the boundary between the heliosphere and the interstellar medium, on November 5.

In space first, China launches lunar rover to far side of the moon (KIFI) China is poised to become the first country to explore the far side of the moon with the launch of a lunar rover Saturday, another step to its goal of becoming a space superpower.

Hell Yeah, We’re Going to the Far Side of the Moon (Motherboard) The Chang’e 4 mission includes a lander, a rover, and a canister of potato seeds.

Here’s why China’s launch to the far side of the Moon is a big deal (Ars Technica) This may be a precursor for a space race back to the Moon.

UK exit from EU's Galileo satellite project risks Europe's security, warns Airbus boss  (The Telegraph) The chief executive of Airbus has warned that the UK's departure from the €10bn (£8.

London turns to America after EU excludes Britain from Galileo satellite program (Defense News) The U.K. says it plans to leave the Galileo GPS program with Europe, and American industry could benefit.

The Air Force wants electronic warfare options, not more studies (C4ISRNET) The Air Force’s in-depth study on the future of electronic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum has not yet been briefed to the service’s leadership, but is already leading to incremental improvements.

Legislation, Policy, and Regulation

Vladimir Putin’s Busy, Bloody, and Expensive 2019 (Defense One) Russia experts look at recent events and peer into the future.

Trump to declare emergency ban on Beijing ‘spy firms’ (Times) President Trump is preparing to declare a national emergency and outlaw two of China’s biggest telecoms companies over claims that they are being used to spy on America. An executive order is said...

Mattis to Officially Hand Off as Defense Secretary to Shanahan at Midnight Monday ( The handoff will take place during a phone call, a defense official said.

Trump fires Mattis early, Shanahan to take over Jan. 1 (Military Times) Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan will take over the department on Jan. 1.

Shanahan poised to rewire the Pentagon with Mattis out (Defense News) Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan could suddenly find himself in the spotlight, following Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' announced departure.

Read Defense Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter (Military Times) Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will step down at the end of February.

Replacing Mattis: 4 Things Trump Needs In His Next Secretary of Defense (The National Interest) He doesn’t need an ideologue. He doesn’t need a business person. He needs a solid conservative national-security leader.

White House weighs whether to continue airstrikes in Syria after troops withdraw (Washington Post) Air power has been decisive in combating the Islamic State, but the lack of a ground force will make strikes more difficult.

US Preparing to Withdraw Troops From Syria: What Does It Mean? (Atlantic Council) Media reports suggest that the Trump administration has begun planning the removal US armed forces from northeastern Syria , as US President Donald Trump believes “ we have defeated ISIS in Syria .” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee...

North Korea says it will never give up nukes unless US removes threat (Military Times) North Korea's stance may put future talks with the U.S. in jeopardy.

Four big questions for the Air Force in 2019 (Defense News) The Air Force has some big decisions coming up in 2019.

Space Force Will Have Seat On Joint Chiefs, Not Full Independence; Costs TBD (Breaking Defense) The Air Force has eked out a victory in the Pentagon’s latest proposal for a Space Force. While many in the Air Force would prefer to keep their current preeminent role in space operations and not create a new service at all, the current plan — to be submitted by year’s end for inclusion in the 2020 budget request — keeps the Space Force under the Air Force Department, rather than making it fully independent.

Trump’s new Space Force to reside under Department of the Air Force (Defense News) The new service will be overseen by the newly created undersecretary of the Air Force for the Space Force and a Space Force chief of staff, who will sit on the Joint Chiefs.

Trump establishes new military space command (Washington Examiner) President Trump on Tuesday signed off on the military’s first space combatant command, putting it on par with others such as U.S. Cyber Command, and taking a key step toward his proposed Space Force.

Space Race: How The Air Force Can Respond Faster As China, Russia Threaten U.S. Orbital Systems (Forbes) The Air Force needs to develop more resilient space systems fast, and there are lots of options for making that happen.

Is North Korea Exerting 'Asymmetric Leverage' Over China? (The Diplomat) What if Pyongyang is using nuclearization as a means to alter the terms of its relationship with China?

US condemns Iranian missile launch, pushes Europe to impose sanctions (Military Times) The Trump administration is urging Europe to impose tough new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program.

Scrapping nuclear deal hasn’t slowed Iran, says CENTCOM nominee (Defense News) Senators grilled the incoming commander of U.S. Central Command on Iran and U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

On Iran, US allies fear ‘maximum pressure’ could provoke escalation (Al-Monitor) While Iran continues to comply for now with the 2015 nuclear deal even after the reimposition of US sanctions, European allies fear that the US administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign could eventually lead to war.

The US has taken the first step to leaving an arms control treaty. What happens next? (Defense News) Washington “would welcome a Russian change of heart,” the secretary of state said, but he added he has seen no indication that Moscow is likely to comply.

Russia ready to discuss inspections with U.S. on arms treaty: RIA (Reuters) Russia is ready to discuss mutual inspections with the United States in order to...

Trump and NATO Show Rare Unity in Confronting Russia’s Arms Treaty Violation (Foreign Policy) NATO backs U.S. assertion that Moscow is violating a key Cold War-era arms treaty.

A congressman’s loss clouds the future of two demanding missions to Europa (Ars Technica) During a recent update, Clipper planners revealed they are looking at Falcon Heavy.

Warner wants more Pentagon spending on cybersecurity (Fifth Domain) Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate’s intelligence committee, called for a realignment of Pentagon spending priorities to boost cybersecurity and technology investments.

US Army Futures Command chief: How the new command will change the service (Defense News) The U.S. is engaged in long-term strategic competition with determined adversaries. Within this is a protracted struggle among militaries to out-innovate one another.

Marine Cyber Command Is Getting In On Other Transaction Contracting ( The Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command’s executive director said the command expects to sign its first OT contract in the coming days.

3 priorities for the Marines' information directorate (C4ISRNET) Here's what the deputy commandant for information is focused on.

Navy appoints first W-1 officers in four decades. What’s next? (Navy Times) A trio of cyberwarriors will pin on the W-1 rank on Sept. 1, 2019, and the other three will join them a month later on the first day of the new federal fiscal year.

Pentagon to Take Over All Security Clearances in Nine Months, Officials Say ( The move will mean absorbing the National Background Investigations Bureau and its 2,000 employees.

Are cyber weapons similar to WMDs? DoD wants to know (Fifth Domain) The Department of Defense is seeking research papers assessing the relationship between offensive cyber and weapons of mass destruction.

New chief for military spy agency (C4ISRNET) NGA will get a new director in February to replace Robert Cardillo.

Litigation, Investigation, and Law Enforcement

FCC fines Swarm Technologies $900K over unauthorized satellite launch (TechCrunch) Back in March came the surprising news that a satellite communications company still more or less in stealth mode had launched several tiny craft into orbit — against the explicit instructions of the FCC. The company, Swarm Technologies, now faces a $900,000 penalty from the agency as well as extra…

The Pentagon Doesn’t Know All the Software on Its Networks—And That’s a Problem (Defense One) The Defense Department faces “unnecessary” risk without a complete software inventory, according to the agency’s inspector general.

Compiled and published by the CyberWire editorial staff. Views and assertions in source articles are those of the authors, not CyberWire, Inc. or Cosmic AES

Prior Issues


Sign up to get the Signals & Space monthly cybersecurity briefing - powered by the CyberWire.

Cosmic AES - Experts in Space and Communications