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CyberSat Game Changer Award Winner: Jaisha Wray

CyberSat, an event which looks at security and satellites, has made quite a splash since it launched two years ago. We live in a connected world, and in the future, conflicts could be as much in the cyber world as they are anywhere else. Given the importance of satellites and the role they play in many different facets of life, they are a natural target for adversaries. A successful hack could see untold damage, whether in a domestic market or in the battlefield. The industry will have to be more vigilant than ever before.

At this year’s CyberSat, we have launched a new award to recognize the great work that the industry does in protecting assets and keeping us safe. The award was open to companies, individuals, and even initiatives that have made a difference in keeping our industry secure.

We had many entrants as the industry enthusiastically embraced this award. After much deliberation, our first winner was Jaisha Wray, director for international cyber policy at the National Security Council. In this role, Wray plays a pivotal role in key role in dictating U.S. cyber policy and marshalling different groups together and making sure U.S. space assets stay secure. Wray has spearheaded the Executive Office of the President’s (EOP) efforts to enhance space system cybersecurity through the creation of the interagency Space Cybersecurity Working Group. Wray led the process to create, and now chairs, the working group to implement the U.S.’s National Cyber Strategy. In a modern era, it is a key change. The Space Cybersecurity Working Group is the first White House-led body, involving both space and cyber policy officials, to take a more holistic governmental approach to this issue.

She is a true inspiration and deserving of winning our first ever CyberSat Game Changer Award. In an exclusive interview, we talk to Way about winning the award, the keys behind the U.S.’s National Cyber Strategy, and her thoughts as CyberSat launches into its third year.

VIA SATELLITE: Firstly, as our initial CyberSat GameChanger Award winner, how does it feel to win this award?

Wray: I am thrilled, not only to be the winner of the award, but the fact that the award was created in the first place. This is an area that I have been passionate about for a long time, and it is great that you have created a venue to encourage and recognize contributors to this critical issue.

VIA SATELLITE: As someone that is working at the sharp end, how do you view the threat landscape in terms of space cybersecurity? Do you believe the nature/tone of the conversation has significantly changed over the last couple of years?

Wray: Our National Cyber Strategy, issued in September 2018, states that the Administration is concerned about the growing cyber-related threats to space assets and supporting infrastructure because these assets are critical to functions such as Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT); Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); satellite communications; and weather monitoring. Because of this threat and our reliance on space, Space Cybersecurity Working Group is working to enhance our efforts to protect our space assets and supporting infrastructure from evolving cyber threats.

VIA SATELLITE: What do you think have been the key achievements of the Space Cybersecurity Working Group? What are you most proud of in terms of the achievements of this Group and the National Space Council?

Wray: The fact that the National Security Council and the National Space Council have been able to set up this working group is an achievement in and of itself. It has become the venue where space and cyber policy officials can meet, compare notes, and provide updates. We are working on a range of activities to implement the National Cyber Strategy’s direction to enhance space cybersecurity. I am proud of our work to support the new Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center as well as our ongoing work examining best practices and principles for space cybersecurity.

VIA SATELLITE: Do you believe that up until the creation of this group, that governments (not necessarily just the U.S. government) were under-estimating the issues related to cybersecurity and space?

Wray: There is always room to improve America’s space cybersecurity, and the Space Cybersecurity Working Group is continuing to look at how we can do this, in cooperation with industry and international partners.

VIA SATELLITE: At CyberSat last year, David DeWalt, CEO, Momentum Cyber said the sector he was most worried about for a high-profile security attack was the satellite sector. Do you share these sentiments?

Wray: Given our reliance of space systems, the range of threats to space assets and the critical services they provide is concerning, but it is difficult to say which sector is most at risk for a high-profile security attack because there are risks across the board.

VIA SATELLITE: Given the unique nature of satellites (assets on the ground and in space), does it present unique challenges when looking to ensure their long-term security?

Wray: Yes. Space vehicles in orbit typically cannot be physically accessed. As a result, it is critical that cybersecurity measures, including the ability to perform updates and respond to incidents remotely, are integrated into the design of the system prior to launch. Integrating cybersecurity into all phases of development and ensuring full life-cycle cybersecurity are critical for space systems.

VIA SATELLITE: Over the next two years, what do you see as the main challenges facing the Space Cybersecurity Working Group? Is the Working Group entering a new phase in terms of next steps?

Wray: Since the working group is relatively new, I hope we will continue to expand the range of our work and continue implementing the National Cyber Strategy. In particular, I hope we can make progress to work cooperatively with industry and a broader range of international partners to enhance space cybersecurity.

VIA SATELLITE: Do you think more needs to be done in terms of partnerships with the commercial space industry?

Wray: The National Cyber Strategy directs us to work with industry to strengthen the cyber resilience of existing and future space systems. The White House in collaboration with other departments and agencies plans to continue to enhance our engagement with industry on this issue.

VIA SATELLITE: Do you think we are likely to see significant changes in policy over the next 12 months or so?

Wray: We will continue working actively to implement the National Cyber Strategy, which is the current policy.

VIA SATELLITE: Finally, how do you see the discussion changing/evolving over the next 12-24 months when it comes to cybersecurity and space?

Wray: As an increasing number of international partners and companies begin investing more in space capabilities, I hope we can continue work with them to ensure that these capabilities are resilient to cyber threats. VS