Current developments worldwide have put an increased focus on safety and security aspects in general and cybersecurity in particular.

The public sector is expected to be at the forefront of many of these activities with private entities involved as both users as well as investors. The increasing integration of space systems to larger ground systems opens up a new vulnerability of the space system to cyber-attacks. Technologies and methods to enhance the cybersecurity level of space and ground systems have been identified as a new and increasingly important need for space transportation systems , for future telecom, EO and navigation missions, though generally of concern for practically all space missions. Cybersecurity requires a range of activities in different fields including cyber-threat monitoring, detection and reporting, incidence analysis, cyber defence management, behavioural, educational and organisational in addition to technical and engineering aspects. 

With the proposed new Cybersecurity initiative, ESA intends to group all cybersecurity related technology and engineering activities. These would include in addition to technologies for the above-mentioned activities also technology developments in the areas of cryptography (including quantum cryptography) and optical communication technologies.

Why it is needed

The increased reliance of other sectors on space assets and services for their own success and competitiveness puts pressure on the incumbent need to address cybersecurity threats originating in space, which endanger critical assets in space and their supporting infrastructure on Earth. While space engineering has a long tradition focussing on safety and reliability, given the harshness of the launch and space environment, cyber security introduces the dimension of intentional, man-made threats in addition to the traditional threat sources coming from the natural environment, technical failures and unintentional human error.

An increasingly hostile and aggressive cyber environment in a time where connectivity is ubiquitous raises the importance of cybersecurity.

The importance of defending space assets and activities from cyber-attacks will increase as space becomes more strongly integrated in other sectors –both of public as well as of private relevance. For this reason, cybersecurity, which is already a concern, will continue to be an important field to address.

how it works

ESA plans to address cyber security at various levels of innovation, 

specifically regarding technology and engineering:

Cost effective implementation of individual security mechanisms through standardisation and validation of security protocols (e.g. the Consultative Committee for Space link Data Services’ (CCSDS) space data link security protocol);
Identification and implementation of reference architectures for space- and ground-based data processing system which include flexibility and security by design, taking into account the rapidly changing nature of the cyber security threat; and
Integration of security into the ESA system engineering process.


A collaborative, co-operative, collective and simultaneous engineering working environment

Other ESA cybersecurity practices

Latest funding opportunities

Date openClose dateBudgetFieldTitle
26.07.202318.09.2023200-500 KEUROCybersecurityDIGITAL FORENSICS FOR SPACE MISSIONS - EXPRO PLUS.