Download PDFOpen PDF in browser

The Vulnerabilities Less Exploited: Cyberattacks on End-of-Life Satellites

EasyChair Preprint no. 9839

5 pagesDate: March 7, 2023


End-of-life (EOL) satellites are space assets that have completed their primary mission. Due to their loss in commercial or scientific priority, EOL satellites are often left in place by operators for an extended period, instead of being decommissioned in a timely manner to free up high-value orbits. This period of inactivity exposes EOL satellites to a lower level of operator vigilance, and therefore, higher level of cyberattack risk. With the recent growth in space activities, this paper estimates there will be up to 5,000 inactive satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) within 5 years, magnifying the space cyber risks and resulting space sustainability challenges. To bolster space cybersecurity, the authors illuminate unique attack vectors against EOL satellites, as well as policy and technical mitigation measures. When part of a constellation, the vulnerability of an EOL satellite has even bigger implications, where a threat actor may use the secondary asset to target primary assets. Ultimately, the active management of EOL satellites is significant for a secure and sustainable LEO infrastructure.

Keyphrases: deorbit, end-of-life satellites, space access, space cybersecurity, space security, space sustainability

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Frank Lee and Gregory Falco},
  title = {The Vulnerabilities Less Exploited: Cyberattacks on End-of-Life Satellites},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 9839},

  year = {EasyChair, 2023}}
Download PDFOpen PDF in browser