Satellite Case Study for Homomorphic Encryption
The satellite industry is strategically important for Europe, and generates significant revenue as well as employing many tens of thousands of people in Europe. A particular issue facing European satellite providers is shared use and reconfigurability of infrastructure. Flexibility and configurability, and particularly shared use of satellites and their infrastructure, is essential to enable affordable use of satellites. The costs of launching and managing a single use satellite are prohibitive for many organisations. The ability to share this cost over multiple customers would expand the commercial reach of European satellite providers.
Shared infrastructure would ideally cover the satellites themselves, communication links to the ground, and the ground infrastructure which collates, processes and otherwise manages data received from the satellites. However, it brings with it security concerns due to the differing commercial and national sensitivities of the applications and data. In the HEAT project, we are looking at how Homomorphic Encryption could allow encryption to be used to provide the required security separation on such shared infrastructure, while still allowing essential and value-add processing of data to take place. It could also allow more cost-effective outsourcing of data processing and storage to Cloud Computing providers.
Potential applications areas are:
- Commercial domain: the ground segment for the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus programme. Access to the Sentinel satellites’ Earth-observation data and generated products is restricted for commercial reasons. These missions will require increased processing capacity and would benefit from Cloud solutions.
- Scientific domain: the future Euclid ground segment. Scientific data for missions such as Euclid are confidential as access needs to be restricted to institutes, universities, etc. contributing to the mission, in order to ensure that they will publish the first papers and have the benefit of any discoveries. The confidentiality of scientific data is not uniquely defined. Therefore, solutions that allow flexibility in the security separation required (i.e. are not tied to the infrastructure) and allow outsourcing of the processing and storage would be of significant benefit.
- Dual domain (civilian & military): ESA’s Space Surveillance Awareness programme, and in particular the Space Surveillance and Tracking centre. Examples of sensitive data include sensor data, operational information (e.g. precise orbit information or existence of a satellite) and tactical information (e.g. object detached from a satellite).