Xage Security, a cybersecurity startup, has just signed a $734,000 data protection contract with the U.S. Space Force (USSF). Under its terms, Xage will assist the Air Force Research Lab by providing "end-to-end data protection across military and civilian assets to support command and control for the USSF," according to a press release by Xage.
This announcement's implications are huge for the blockchain space because the innovative data protection system developed by Xage uses blockchain technology to determine whether access to specific nodes within a network and the circulating data can be trusted.
The phase-two Small Business Innovation Research contract was awarded last June. In the current geopolitical landscape, data network security is more central than ever. Xage's Security Fabric platform, which includes a number of signature software programs, will facilitate secure connections between satellites and ground stations.
Xage CEO Duncan Greatwood told reporters that the service the company will provide to USSF is akin to what it does for oil and gas companies, enabling different oil pads to function both independently and as part of an extensive network.
Xage, which first started collaborating with USSF last year, is now working on the specific application of its security technology to complex space architectures. In the context of dynamic satellite networks, Xage's CEO explains, "Each element...has to be able to make security decisions," continually assessing potential risks, e.g., "Can I let that other satellite communicate with me or is it potentially a rogue satellite?" On the other hand, ground stations need to establish whether data received from satellites is trustworthy or has been tampered with at some point.
According to Greatwood, the technology will significantly improve the operational capacity of space networks, significantly reducing cyber-risk "once no single point can be hacked to gain access to the network."
In a press release, the company stated that space systems "require a security solution that blocks cyberattacks before they gain traction, protects the space platform at a granular level, and ensures data integrity, confidentiality, and access across various organizations and units." Xage emphasized the importance of a potential security solution's resilience in the face of highly sophisticated cyber attacks.
According to the Silicon Valley startup, its security platform offers:
- Universal protection: "a unified platform that secures all systems, no matter their age or location."
- Access control: "identity-based access control for ground systems communicating with satellites with confidential payload protection."
- Data security: "fine-grained access control and data control among applications, across both USSF and commercial assets, and between space and ground."
- No single point of hack: "removes singular points of entry, ensuring that a single hack is no longer capable of wiping out all operations across a system."
- Disconnected operations: "Even when ground resources are compromised or disconnected, satellites must be able to operate securely."
"We built the Xage solution to serve the needs of complex critical infrastructure systems, and are excited to bring the Xage solution to the Space Force in the form of a blockchain-protected space system security," the company's CEO explains.
The contract with Xage was announced shortly after the release of Space Policy Directive 5. An unprecedented set of government guidelines for cybersecurity in space, the Directive lists several best practices to prevent hacking, rather than establishing enforceable rules.
According to government sources, the new policy establishes "key cybersecurity principles to guide and serve as a foundation for the U.S. approach for cyber protection of space systems." These principles relate to authentication and encryption, anti-jamming protection, and ground system/information processing safeguards.
The potential of blockchain to power the space race is limitless. As we conquer the moon and other planets, it could provide a platform for companies to interact without supervising government authorities.
In a lecture titled Space Governance 3.0, UC Berkeley space and blockchain scholar Brian R. Israel commented on "the likely trajectories of space activities and blockchain technologies," emphasizing the potential of smart contracts "built atop blockchain networks, such as Ethereum," to minimize transactional friction, facilitating effective contractual regimes in outer space. "I see potential for a vibrant future of space activities enabled by more efficient, effective governance mechanisms, as well as signs of a future stunted by regime fragmentation," Israel concluded.