Monday , May 27 2024
cyber

GAO: NASA Faces ‘Inconsistent’ Cybersecurity Across Spacecraft

The GAO reviewed NASA’s cybersecurity practices and found that there is a need to update spacecraft acquisition policies and standards. They specifically focused on assessing the cybersecurity requirements in NASA contracts for spacecraft projects.

The GAO report reviewed NASA’s spacecraft cybersecurity policies and standards. They looked at three different spacecraft projects that represent various NASA centers and development stages, including both robotic and human spaceflight projects. GAO analyzed contracts and project documents and interviewed project and cybersecurity officials.

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GAO examined cybersecurity requirements in NASA contracts for spacecraft projects. The report assessed cybersecurity in selected spacecraft contracts and determined if updates to acquisition policies and standards are needed. The review focused on spacecraft, not ground systems or contractor information security.

GAO is evaluating if NASA has implemented information security controls according to guidelines, standards, and cybersecurity best practices.

NASA released a cybersecurity requirements document in 2019. They have been thinking about updating their spacecraft acquisition policies and standards since then, but they haven’t done it yet. In 2023, NASA published a guide with best practices for space cybersecurity. This guide includes information about principles, controls, threats, and how to reduce risks. However, following this guide is not mandatory for spacecraft programs.

NASA officials say it takes too long to incorporate guidance into acquisition policies. GAO agrees it takes time but says it’s essential for NASA to do it.

The watchdog found that all the NASA spacecraft contracts included cybersecurity requirements. The contractors were required to demonstrate that they met these requirements according to NASA’s 2019 Space System Protection Standard.

“All three projects in our review—Orion, Gateway PPE, SPHEREx—were in development before NASA issued the Space System Protection Standard. NASA required such programs to coordinate with the Office of the Chief Engineer to determine whether any of the requirements should be incorporated based on threats.” Full report here.

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