Microsoft joins space industry information clearinghouse to boost cybersecurity

Ground station construction
A series of pictures documents the construction of an Azure Orbital ground station at Microsoft’s data center in Quincy, Wash. (Microsoft Azure via YouTube)

Microsoft is joining the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center as a founding member, with a mission to strengthen cybersecurity for critical space assets.

“As the first hyperscale cloud service provider to join this member organization, we will share our unique global threat insights to protect critical infrastructure and strengthen cybersecurity expertise in the space community,” Tom Keane, corporate vice president for Azure Global, said today in a blog posting.

Space ISAC was launched in 2019 as a channel for companies and research institutions to work with each other and with government agencies to safeguard space assets. The group’s founding members include space industry heavyweights such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SES and The Aerospace Corp. Boeing is a general member.

Bill Chappell, Azure Global’s chief technology officer and vice president of mission systems, will represent Microsoft on Space ISAC’s board of directors.

Keane noted that Microsoft invests more than $1 billion annually on cybersecurity, and has a team of more than 1,500 global security experts in 77 countries around the world. “Microsoft provides world-class threat detection technologies including those built into Azure, Windows and Microsoft 365, and we will be exploring ways to apply these solutions toward protecting space systems,” Keane said.

Cybersecurity in space is becoming an issue of increasing interest due to the rising tide of data that’s generated by Earth-watching satellites and handled by satellite telecom constellations. Recent cyberattacks traced to Russia and China have added to the concern.

In a 2019 white paper, analysts at The Aerospace Corp. reported that the space industry needed to devote more attention to developing security standards for space-based operations. “In addition to standards, overarching governance and policies lack the necessary integration between cybersecurity and the space domain,” the analysts wrote.

Microsoft has raised its profile in the space industry over the past year — with the launch of Azure Space and Azure Orbital, its participation in a cloud computing project on the International Space Station and a partnership with SpaceX ranking among the highlights. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s top rival in the market for cloud computing services, is also targeting space-based cloud applications.

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Space Azure Azure orbital Cloud Cybersecurity Space isac