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NSA Deploying AI to Analyze Suspicious Smallsat Behavior

Jeff Brody

The National Security Agency is leveraging artificial intelligence to analyze telemetry data and identify anomalies in small satellites’ behavior to ensure that they are not under the control of adversaries, Defense One reported Friday.

Aaron Ferguson, technical director of the NSA Capabilities Directorate's encryption solutions office, told attendees at a Defense One event that the experiment will help inform modifications for future smallsats which will be deployed in low-Earth orbit.

“It’s no longer good enough to have a satellite that can survive launch, begin to operate, and survive initial operations,” said Gen. John Raymond, commander of the recently created U.S. Space Command. “You have to have a satellite that is defendable, and so Space Command will put a sharp focus on that.”

Bill Malik, vice president of infrastructure systems at Trend Micro, added that issues in satellite security will significantly impact other efforts such as the planned 5G rollout. In a prior conference held in May, Malik noted in a presentation that there have been six known cases of NASA satellite hacking before 2011.

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