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October 15, 2015 – ZEK’s Deborah Housen-Couriel to speak on Cybersecurity Threats to Satellites at the 66th International Astronautical Conference in Jerusalem, Israel

On October 15, ZEK’s Deborah Housen-Couriel will present a legal analysis of cyber attacks to space systems at the 66th annual IAC conference in Jerusalem.  She will be speaking as part of the Conference’s cybersecurity panel on Cyber Security Threats to Space Systems.  Cybersecurity threats to satellites exploit vulnerabilities that are mission-critical, including launch systems, communications, telemetry, tracking and command, and mission completion.  Several international law regimes govern the response to kinetic and virtual attacks and disruptions of satellite communications, including space law (governing the launching of objects and their space activities, including damage liability); telecommunications law (governing transmission of data between earth and space); the law governing trans-border freedom of information and UN Charter’s collective security regime.

An abstract of Ms. Housen-Couriel’s presentation is provided below:
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Cybersecurity threats to space missions are a relatively new phenomenon, yet have quickly come to the forefront of concern for the sustainability of missions due to the vulnerabilities that such threats may exploit and negatively impact. These vulnerabilities are liable to be mission-critical, including launch systems, communications, telemetry, tracking and command, and mission completion. These and other aspects of space missions depend on secure, consistent and resilient cyber capabilities. Due to the global nature of both satellite and cyberspace activities, these capabilities rely on international cooperation for setting a baseline of agreed legal norms that protect satellites and their virtual transmissions. This concern is relevant during all mission phases, from planning stages to final wrap-up. Under optimal circumstances, the norms and standards protecting satellites and satellite transmissions are developed and enforced by those nation-state actors that are committed to mission’s success. When breaches of international law do occur in the form of hostile events causing damage to satellites, a range of measures should be available to the victim state, provided by the appropriate legal regime. This article proposes that a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder review be undertaken of the measures available under international law in response to hostile acts directed at satellites and satellite transmissions. These measures will depend upon the characterization of hostile interference with satellite transmissions in accordance with a typology of events proposed in the article. Four normative international law regimes influence the types of measures that may be undertaken: the UN Charter’s collective security regime; space law (governing the launching of objects and their space activities, including damage liability); global telecommunications law (governing transmission of data between earth and space); and the substantive law regarding trans-border freedom of information. The nascent normative framework that will apply to state activity in cyberspace will also be relevant in the future. The article proposes a typology of hostile satellite events; reviews the four relevant legal regimes; and suggests the establishment of a framework for effective elucidation of appropriate legal responses at the international level in responding to kinetic and virtual threats to space missions.

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Deborah Housen-Couriel is Special Counsel to ZEK’s New York and Tel Aviv offices, and a member of its Cybersecurity practice group.  Ms. Housen-Couriel is a Fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, where she has been involved in the development of Israel’s national cybersecurity policy; a lead researcher at the Minerva Center at Haifa University’s Law Faculty; an Associate Researcher at the Herzliya Institute for Counter-Terrorism and a member of its Cyber Desk Review. She is a member of the CCDCOE International Group of Experts currently drafting the “Tallin 2” manual on state activity in cyberspace; and of the ILA Study Group on Cybersecurity, Terrorism and International Law. She served on the public committee of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau dealing with cybersecurity professions, and in 2010-11 co-chaired the National Cyber Initiative’s Policy and Regulation Committee. She has published research on aspects of the legal and policy aspects of Israeli and global cybersecurity.