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New Internet Satellite Constellations to Increase Cyber Risk in Ill-Prepared Industries

Version 2 2024-02-04, 22:59
Version 1 2023-05-23, 19:06
conference contribution
posted on 2024-02-04, 22:59 authored by Joel ScanlanJoel Scanlan, JM Styles, D Lyneham, MH Lutzhoft
The deployment of the Starlink, OneWeb, LeoSat and Project Kuiper satellite constellations will have a transformative impact on the availability of the internet globally. The existing satellite-delivered Internet access from providers is operated from geostationary orbit resulting in high latency connections, with limited bandwidth. The recently completed Iridium Next constellation is comprised of 66 satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO) and provides a maximum speed of 1.4Mbit/s bandwidth. This bandwidth is a fraction of the 100s Mbit/s and Gbit/s speeds within the proposed constellations of OneWeb and Starlink, each containing hundreds, and up to thousands, of satellites. These offerings promise global access, with low latency and high bandwidth. These platforms will be transformative in their impact on global access to the Internet, with many unforeseeable positive and negative outcomes. This paper will discuss what it suggests is a likely increase in cyber-attacks on ill-prepared industries due to the rapid adoption of highspeed Internet delivered through these proposed constellations. The industries we suggest are most at risk are those which are geographically dispersed; unable to currently attain reliable and fast Internet access and have existing legacy software systems with poor security. This will be explored within the context of the maritime and offshore industries as a case study, since they currently make use of the existing limited satellite connections for nonmission critical tasks but are looking to transition to shore-based control and increased automation of shipboard systems. The industry has not formerly been at great risk from cyber-attack due to geographic isolation and limited connectivity to the systems. However, the satellite constellations will enable them to have fast, high-bandwidth connections nearly anywhere on the globe. There are a range of industries, or at least sections within industries, that are ideally suited to utilise these new platforms that formerly did not need to be concerned about cyber-attacks, and as such do not have a strong security design culture. These will be contrasted to the much better-prepared networks, such as stock exchanges, that have been spoken of by providers as being an ideal use case. This risk is not the responsibility of the Internet providers, who in this case are the companies building these expansive constellations. However, it may be in their best interest to raise awareness among prospective clients in non-traditionally connected industries.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC)






Office of the University College


International Astronautical Federation (IAF)

Publication status

  • Published

Place of publication

United States

Event title

70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC)

Event Venue

Washington D.C

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright ©2019 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved

Socio-economic Objectives

220199 Communication technologies, systems and services not elsewhere classified, 270405 International sea freight transport (excl. live animals, food products and liquefied gas)

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