CYSEC teams up with armasuisse to bring confidential computing to space

Cyber security start-up CYSEC and the Cyber Defense Campus of armasuisse entered into a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). CYSEC's trusted execution environment ARCA is well-suited for an industrial implementation of a technology developed by armasuisse. The goal is to protect data transiting and collected in space via satellites.

In 2019, the CYD (Cyber Defense) Campus in collaboration with Oxford University showed that with 300$ worth of TV equipment one can access sensitive information broadcasted by satellites: personal data like passwords, private conversations by SMS, but also sensitive data related to critical infrastructures.

A lot of cryptographic tools could be used by satellite internet provider to improve the confidentiality of the data, but the impact on the performance of the link remains the main obstacle. Vincent Lenders, Head of the CYD Campus, presented at CYSAT in March 2021, an event co-organized by CYSEC on cybersecurity for space, a new proxy that would be able to implement encryption techniques without impacting the performances of the link.

Mathieu Bailly, heading the space activities at CYSEC: “The research done by armasuisse is spot on as it will give no more excuses to satellite internet providers to not protect the data broadcasted. We’re looking forward to this collaboration as our trusted execution environment ARCA is well-suited for an industrial implementation of the technology developed by armasuisse. We think it can be a game changer for all users not willing to expose their data while benefiting from the advantages of a satcom link.”

Protecting data transiting and collected in space via satellites being one of the applications of the confidential computing technology developed by CYSEC, the two entities decided to join forces through the signature of a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). This partnership will allow CYSEC and the CYD Campus team to build synergies based on their respective technical expertise on strategic projects like security of satellite communications.

Vincent Lenders commented: “Satellites play an increasing role in modern telecommunications, including for armed forces. However, our research in 2019 demonstrated that data broadcasted by satellites are exposed and vulnerable. With its confidential computing products available in the edge and in the cloud, CYSEC has the capability, based on our research, to improve end-to-end security in the satcom market.”

The Cyber Defense Campus has been created in January 2019 by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport through its armasuisse Science and Technology branch to foster technology advances in the field of cybersecurity. Based on the campuses of the federal schools of technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and in Zurich (ETHZ), as well as at armasuisse S+T in Thun, the tasks of the CYD Campus cover three main areas: scout technology in the fast evolving cyber area, develop innovative solutions by leveraging cooperation with industry and universities, and train future cyber specialists.

(Press release / SK)