National Cybersecurity Center CEO Vance Brown and COO Jonathan Steenland at the 35th Space Symposium, after the unveiling of the nation's first Space ISAC.

Colorado Springs will be home to the space industry’s first information sharing and analysis center (ISAC). The new Space ISAC, announced today, will be based at the National Cybersecurity Center.

The National Cybersecurity Center will be home to the space industry’s first information sharing and analysis center (ISAC).

The nation’s only space-dedicated information sharing and analysis center was unveiled this afternoon during a classified session at the 35th Space Symposium.

NCC CEO Vance Brown said the Space ISAC could potentially be “the most important organization in the world.

“We revolve around cybersecurity which is the greatest threat to humanity…” he said. “But then you look at infrastructure, how our society is based on GPS — global positioning systems — and how many of the top 16 critical infrastructures related to our defense are related to GPS alone.

“The greatest threat, we believe, to any space assets is cyber. Not that missiles couldn’t take them out, but the more likely scenario is some type of cyber attack — so there needs to be a close association between cybersecurity and space assets. And this is in recognition of that fact.”

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is Space ISAC’s first founding member, providing the initial funding and support to set up the organization “as a service to the industry and with the support of the U.S. Government,” according to a Kratos-issued news release.

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The NCC is providing the initial training and the information sharing and analysis portal to founding members of Space ISAC. Brown said at least four other organizations — as yet unnamed — have also committed to becoming founding members.

Standing up the information sharing analysis portal at the NCC will involve “a large infusion” of funding into the NCC, Brown said, and will have “a very large impact on our local economy.”

NCC leaders also expect Space ISAC to burnish Colorado Springs’ reputation as a tech, cyber and space hub.

“To me, it’s a stake in the ground,” Brown said, adding that Colorado Springs will become more recognized nationally and internationally for its importance in the space community.

“Certainly there will be increased recognition that cybersecurity related to space assets is a big deal,” he said. “Of course they are linked. … But to also specifically have that kind of relationship between cyber and space is essential.”

Locating the Space ISAC at the National Cybersecurity Center “means Space ISAC members will have access to Colorado’s space and cybersecurity commercial and defense ecosystem and to the talents from the premier institutions of higher education developing cybersecurity engineers,” according to an announcement issued by the NCC. “Together, NCC and Space ISAC will serve cyber influencers from commercial, academia, government and military.”

Brown said Colorado Springs is the ideal location for Space ISAC, given the Department of Defense presence throughout the city, Space Command at Peterson AFB and the Space Foundation.

“If you look at our history related to cyber and even a larger history historically for space — in terms of Space Command located here and and the Space Foundation and all the [Department of Defense] presence, it’s the perfect location,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s the only right location — given not just the history, but the infrastructure that’s already in place.”

NCC and Space ISAC have agreed to work together to build and deliver a research and development capability, cybersecurity training curriculum and an analysis portal. Together, the NCC and Space ISAC will use these assets to empower people to secure space communications. 

What is an ISAC?

ISACs are sector-specific, member-driven organizations stood up by the commercial sector with support from the federal government to collect, analyze, and disseminate all-hazards, actionable threat and mitigation information to asset owners, operators and members.

There are 21 nationally-recognized ISACs today, NCC COO Jonathan Steenland said, with the financial services ISAC being the largest.

“So the ISAC model has been around for a while with varying degrees of success,” he said. “But ours is, I believe, going to be highly successful because we have the opportunity from ground zero — starting today — to really focus on the community requirements of these members and build this thing from the ground up, using their requirements of lessons learned from what we know about other ISACs.”

Space ISAC will be a 501(c)6 nonprofit, and exists as a separate entity to the NCC, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Why is Space ISAC needed?

The need for a Space ISAC was conceived by the Science and Technology Partnership Forum in 2017 in response to recognized information sharing gaps within the cybersecurity and space community.

The Forum’s goal was to enhance the community’s ability to prepare for and respond to vulnerabilities, incidents, and threats; disseminate timely information; and serve as the primary communications channel for the sector with respect to this information. The Forum shared this vision at the 34th Space Symposium in April last year.

The formation of the Space ISAC supports the White House’s National Cyber Strategy, published in September 2018, which states that “the Administration will enhance efforts to protect our space assets and support infrastructure from evolving cyber threats,” while working “with industry and international partners to strengthen the cyber resilience of existing and future space systems.”

To facilitate the Space ISAC’s origination and organization as the founding member, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. has coordinated the organizational planning and federal government charter, funded the ISAC startup costs, and developed the operational plan for the Space ISAC.

Kratos will continue to provide leadership within the Space ISAC and will recruit other industry-focused companies and organizations to build a robust Space ISAC membership.

Workforce and economic impact

“In addition to fusion, research and testing capabilities the NCC will expand its offerings of training and certification to members and partners,” Steenland said. “We believe these capabilities will have a positive economic and workforce impact in Colorado Springs, Colorado and our nation as a whole.”

The initial founders of Space ISAC will serve as board members, each with a role in fulfilling the ISAC’s mission. The mission is to facilitate collaboration across the global space industry to enhance our ability to prepare for and respond to vulnerabilities, incidents, and threats; to disseminate timely and actionable information among member firms; and to serve as the primary communications channel for the sector with respect to this information.

Frank Backes, Senior Vice President of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., SATCOM Products and Federal Satellite Solutions, said, “As the first founding member of Space ISAC, and initial investor to launch, Kratos recognizes the need for an industry led organization dedicated to securing space assets. Space has become critical infrastructure to the delivery of products, services, economic stability, military, and intelligence for the world. Kratos is honored to be a part of the launch of this essential organization.”

Space ISAC will be housed within the NCC. With the addition of the Space ISAC, NCC will begin to offer training on secure GPS as early as May.

Backes is serving in the role of ISAC President while the search for a standing President is underway.