Satellite-Hacking Sandbox

Moonlighter, a groundbreaking project dubbed the “first-ever hacking sandbox in space,” will revolutionize satellite hacking as it ventures into low-Earth orbit in August. 

This pioneering effort promises to push the boundaries of cybersecurity by providing a unique platform for hacking in outer space.

The innovative cyber test platform known as Moonlighter has been unleashed through a strategic alliance between Space Systems Command (SSC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). 

This compact 3U CubeSat empowers the national security space community by providing a remarkable opportunity to engage in live testing and acquire knowledge directly from orbit.

Satellite-Hacking Sandbox

Aerospace Corp. has revealed that this remarkable system boasts a dedicated cyber payload equipped with a firewall, primarily designed to isolate the onboard subsystem. 

Additionally, it employs a fully reprogrammable payload computer that mimics the behavior and capabilities of a traditional flight computer.

This system facilitates the execution of cyber experiments in a manner that is repeatable, realistic, and secure, all while prioritizing the safety of the satellite.

In space, cybersecurity testing predominantly occurs within laboratory confines or through simulated activities carried out on terrestrial grounds. 

The limited availability of appropriate vehicles in such an environment has posed challenges in applying cyber defense theories and methodologies to the space domain.

Moonlighter Checks

Here below, we have mentioned all the Moonlighter checks:-

  • With its primary objective being defensive cyber operations, the cyber payload will undergo comprehensive testing to evaluate and validate various cybersecurity technologies that are advanced in nature.
  • Enabling high-speed processing and vigilant monitoring, the system leverages an integrated cyber monitor to oversee the traffic passing through the communications channel.
  • The monitor uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to empower cyber event detection algorithms with enhanced capabilities.
  • The integration of additional attitude sensors and vehicle sensors introduces enhanced monitoring techniques that rely on backing evidence for more comprehensive analysis.

With its cloud-based ground segment, Moonlighter establishes an environment that can be swiftly reset to a secure state, ensuring the segregation between cyber activities, critical health, and safety operations, all while promoting adaptability.

Competitive Collaboration

Joining forces with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, Moonlighter is set to become an integral component of Hack-A-Sat 4, an esteemed annual space security challenge.

To unlock fresh perspectives and innovative breakthroughs, Hack-A-Sat actively encourages security researchers at various skill levels and the wider hacking community to contribute their insights, paving the way for innovative solutions to the intricate cyber challenges that saturate the realm of space.

From its very first year in 2020, Aerospace has stood firmly behind this cybersecurity competition, offering continuous support and actively contributing to its development.

Moonlighter’s groundbreaking role in the Hack-A-Sat competition will go down in history as the first-ever deployment of an on-orbit asset, redefining Capture-the-Flag exercises through its unprecedented in-space platform.

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Guru is an Ex-Security Engineer at Comodo Cybersecurity. Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.


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