Coming Back Down to Earth: A Grounded Look at Space Cybersecurity in Southeast Asia




space cybersecurity, southeast asia, cyber threat, satellite


This paper aims to open discussion regarding the absence of cybersecurity efforts for space systems in Southeast Asia and its implications. Although there is a consensus on the need for action, Southeast Asian states have not taken any concrete steps to address the challenge of space cybersecurity. Lacking sovereign capabilities, regulatory structures, and initiatives to tackle complex accidents that are waiting to happen, Southeast Asia is not adequately equipped to deal with the growing risk of attack on its space ecosystem. With increasing militarization of space programs, exponentially growing dominance of private sector, and reduced barriers of entry for malicious non-state actors, delaying any action for strengthening space cybersecurity can produce detrimental impact given the necessity of space sector for civil, commercial, and national sustenance in the region. Southeast Asia is in a unique position where the nascency of space sector and lack of rigid structures allows flexibility to learn, translate, and adapt existing initiatives and frameworks. To be on a path to bridge the gap between reality and the ideal, the region should focus on articulating principles and guidelines. The author proposes realistic policy recommendations and directions Southeast Asian states and the region at-large should pursue for promoting medium and long-term sustainability and usability, and for maintaining cybersecurity of space assets.

Author Biography

Shantanu Sharma, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Shantanu Sharma is a Senior Analyst at Centre of Excellence for National Security, RSIS, NTU. His work focuses the intersection of technology, geopolitics, and national security. His current research interests include emerging technologies such as quantum and space, AI security and privacy-enhancing technologies, and strategic communications for tackling cognitive operations.