ISRO focused on developing onboard cyber technology for spacecraft

ISRO chairman S Somanath revealed that the organisation faces more than 100 cyber attacks daily, underlining the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures.
ISRO chairman S Somanath taking a look at the momento presented by Industries Minister P Rajeeve at the cOcOn cyber conference concluding ceremony in Kochi on Saturday. (Photo | T P Sooraj)
ISRO chairman S Somanath taking a look at the momento presented by Industries Minister P Rajeeve at the cOcOn cyber conference concluding ceremony in Kochi on Saturday. (Photo | T P Sooraj)

KOCHI:  The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is taking proactive steps to address the growing threat of cyber attacks by developing onboard cyber technology. ISRO chairman S Somanath unveiled this strategic initiative during his keynote address at the conclusion of the 16th edition of cOcOn, an international cyber conference held in Kochi.

He explained the unique challenges faced by space systems in terms of cybersecurity. Unlike laptops or computers that can receive antivirus patches to enhance security, satellites launched by ISRO are designed to operate in orbit for up to 15 years, making hardware and software upgrades infeasible. Therefore, ISRO is focused on developing the capability for spacecraft to have onboard cyber technology.

Somanath highlighted that some of the upcoming satellites will possess this capability to detect and respond to potential intrusions. “For example, if there is a ground-based intrusion attempt on a satellite, it will generate a warning to notify us and take protective measures to reject commands of suspicious nature. The types of threats we face in space are enormous,” said Somanath, who is visiting the city for the first time since the successful launch of Chandrayaan-3 to the moon.

The ISRO chairman revealed that the organisation faces more than 100 cyber attacks daily, underlining the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures. He shared an incident where cyber fraudsters impersonated him by sending emails soliciting money from ISRO employees, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding against such malicious activities. Additionally, Somanath highlighted the pivotal role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in shaping the future of technology, emphasising its importance in strategic and defence domains.   

Meanwhile, Industries Minister P Rajeeve commended Kerala as a role model for cyber security governance. He praised c0c0n as a leader in the Indian cybersecurity sector, fostering innovation and cultivating the next generation of cybersecurity experts.    

The concluding ceremony was presided over by Hibi Eden MP, with Mayor M Anilkumar as the chief guest, and actor Mamta Mohandas in attendance. 

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