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The NASA Security Operations Center (SOC)

The NASA Security Operations Center (SOC)

Provide central agency coordination of information security incident response preparation, identification, analysis, communication, containment, eradication, recovery and follow-up activities. Administer the NASA System of Record for Assessment and Authorization artifacts.

Establish vulnerability and flaw remediation processes at Centers and missions that align with NASA policies, and facilitate media sanitization and data destruction according to these policies.

Brief Overview

The technology utilized for space missions becomes increasingly interdependent and interdependent NASA is putting in the effort to ensure the security of these new systems. 

They recently released a manual with the best practices for ensuring the security of complicated space systems ISOs should develop tests, implement, and maintain an information security plan to safeguard their systems from misuse, unauthorized access and disclosure, disturbance disruption destruction and also conform to any relevant laws or regulations (FISMA for example).

Furthermore, they must conduct continuous monitoring of their information systems as well as submit inventory of system interconnections to NASA SAISO; have procedures in place for documentation of assessment recovery restoration activities as well as develop agreements with suppliers/third parties according to cyber supply chain risk management process.


NASA has an impressive history that spans six decades and encompasses numerous milestones, including the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing of 1969 and numerous space expeditions that have provided essential knowledge about our universe and solar system.

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In 1958, NASA was officially established through U.S. Congress’ Space Act and took on the responsibility of taking over various research facilities including Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville Alabama.

NACA conducted extensive research on lifting bodies, which would later assist engineers in designing modern planes. Furthermore, NACA collaborated with Boeing and the Air Force on the X-15 program – a supersonic aircraft designed to reach orbit – as a response to Soviet Russia’s launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957 which initiated a “Space Race”.


A hub-and-spoke model is used to ensure coordinated incident response and management. Additionally, The NASA Security Operations Center SOC assists the Agency in its cybersecurity risk management capabilities by developing plans for detecting, reporting, analyzing and responding to information security incidents.

The NASA Security Operations Center (SOC) employs various key staff members, including its manager, IT Security specialist, Threat Intelligence Analysts (TIAs), and Malware Reverse Engineers. Together these teams hunt proactively for threats and vulnerabilities to determine their source, address any risk mitigation needs, or investigate incidents quickly and efficiently.

The NASA Security Operations Center SOC also oversees NASA’s Mission Network, a dedicated network service tailored specifically for their needs. This system ensures secure connectivity with NASA centers and ground stations as well as external partners seamlessly, while providing secure voice calls among scientists and astronauts alike. Furthermore, their MMOC offers customizable mission voice systems standardized for collaboration among scientists and astronauts as well as providing technical recommendations and cost estimates when working on mission proposal teams.

Role and Responsibilities

Alongside responding to security-related incidents In addition to responding to security incidents, in addition to responding to incidents, the Security Operations Center serves as an essential center for detecting threats. With cutting-edge technology and exclusive technology, they can detect threats in real-time while keeping the status quo throughout NASA.

The SOO and its staff are responsible for monitoring training requirements for Agency stakeholders, and for providing education materials that satisfy both general knowledge as well as role-based information security awareness training requirements.

In the event of a major incident, SOOs must respond and coordinate with stakeholders as appropriate. Furthermore, they are accountable for ensuring Centers adhere to proper risk management processes and policies; fulfilling OMB and FISMA reporting directives as applicable; in addition to maintaining an electronic system of record for assessment and authorization artifacts for all NASA information systems.

Technologies and Tools Used

The NASA Security Operations Center (NSOC) uses various technologies and tools to combat information security threats, such as continuous monitoring, incident response management, vulnerability and flaw remediation, tracking the status of critical NASA systems and IT infrastructure and providing contingency planning guidance to safeguard sensitive agency data.

Assure that AOs and Center CISOs understand and communicate the value of information system security requirements to their IOs and ISOs, so their responsibilities are properly fulfilled. Support categorizations that reflect the sensitive nature of information generated, collected, processed, stored or disseminated through information systems.

Be certain that encryption solutions meet federal encryption standards and NIST guidance to secure portable and removable media devices. Furthermore, ensure the Center CISO works in coordination with the Center Security Office to have adequate equipment and services available for media sanitization.

Operational Procedures

Assure all information system security configurations comply with federal requirements. Work closely with OPS in establishing standards and guidance for physical protection of NASA information system operating environments.

Maintain a continuous audit of information systems to detect vulnerabilities, working together with the AO, ISO and IO(s), to inform other Center CISOs and SAISOs of any flaws found within them that may need remediation efforts.

Facilitate the sanitization and destruction of no longer required data in accordance with applicable policies and directives to lower the risk of leakage of non-public NASA information to unauthorised individuals or entities, according to applicable policies and directives. 

Assist the SOC/AIRM with incident response testing, training, exercises for their Center information systems. Serve as subject matter expert on cyber risk assessments/authorizations from their CISO; maintain an inventory of data devices/systems they possess.

Continuous Improvement Strategies

The NASA Security Operations Center SOC is continually looking for ways to improve and expand its capabilities, particularly as they pertain to mission support. Their team places particular importance on reducing operational costs as well as strengthening resilience.

Recently, NASA Security Operations Center (NSOC) moved out of OPS1 at NSAW and into the cutting-edge Morrison Center on NSAW’s East Campus – named in honor of Maj Gen John Morrison – an inductee into Cryptologic Hall of Fame and founder of NSOC. The newly designed facility incorporates features like 24/7 open concept cafeteria, gender neutral restrooms with single use restroom stalls and sit/stand desks designed with operational excellence in mind.

The National Security Operations Center is striving to enhance its risk management practices through implementation of new processes and procedures as well as developing an information security configuration management capability. This capability involves developing, documenting and overseeing plans of action milestones (POA&Ms), risk acceptance authorization packages signed off by authorized officials as well as developing information security configuration management capabilities.

Challenges and Risks

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration relies heavily on information systems and networks for space exploration and scientific discovery, leaving it exposed to cyber threats which may interfere with mission operations or expose sensitive data.

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Security operations centers need tools that will assist them in proactive searching and detecting threats in real time, such as user behavior analysis (UEBA). Such software helps detect any anomalous activities that might otherwise go undetected by traditional security tools.

Haivision Command 360’s pliable capabilities that are content-agnostic ensure security operations are able to adapt to the latest tools and techniques as they develop, assisting companies stay ahead of their competitors as they defend themselves against ever sophisticated attacks.

Case Studies

Many government agencies are still in the process of creating or revising their cyber security operations centers, while those already established should constantly strive to improve their services and stay abreast of technological innovations.

Case studies are an in-depth research method used to explore a specific event or situation within its real-world setting, from individual patients or medical cases, through larger organizational or political problems, up to even global issues.

NASA takes cybersecurity very seriously, as any compromise could delay or cancel multimillion-dollar missions. To keep pace with threats and secure its missions quickly, NASA needed to quickly identify vulnerabilities and take appropriate actions against threats. 

As its internal SOC was no longer keeping up with demand, NASA decided to outsource this function with Bitsight which offers comprehensive security rating and monitoring service.

Future Outlook

NASA’s National Space Operations Center is an essential part of their operations, offering services that aid them in fulfilling their mission to inspire the world by advancing space exploration, science and aeronautics. Furthermore, its services help safeguard Earth by monitoring invasive species that threaten biodiversity as well as aiding future astronauts travel between planets without incurring contamination risks.

The NASA Security Operations Center SOC will remain located at OPS1 of NSAW until its new state-of-the-art facility opens, currently under construction and scheduled to open by 2022. This facility, named Morrison Center after Maj Gen John E. Morrison – an inductee into Cryptologic Hall of Honor – will house both crisis response capabilities that were originally part of its founding mission and crisis response capabilities that have since evolved within it.

This new facility will boast modern fitness center equipment, 24/7 access to its cafeteria, gender neutral single user restrooms and sit/stand desks – plus will feature touchless door activators allowing it to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

The NASA Security Operations Center, commonly abbreviated SOC is the central hub that is responsible for monitoring, detecting and resolving cyber security threats in NASA’s infrastructure for network security.

The NASA Security Operations Center SOC operates around the all hours, employing the most advanced security tools and techniques to continuously monitor network activity as well as detect any anomalies and look into the possibility of security violations. Highly trained analysts analyze data in real time, and quickly respond to threats to minimize threats and ensure the security of NASA’s cyberspace.

The NASA Security Operations Center SOC plays a crucial function in maintaining security and integrity for NASA’s activities. By actively identifying and addressing security threats, it can help to prevent unauthorised access, data breaches and interruptions to critical systems. This helps ensure the security integrity, security, and accessibility of sensitive NASA data and resources.

There is typically an expense associated with NASA Trash Service to cover the costs of waste collection as well as disposal and recycling services. The cost structure can vary depending on various factors, such as the status of the resident, the type of property and the amount of waste that is generated.

The NASA Security Operations Center SOC is staffed by an experienced team of cyber security experts who are skilled in areas like security of networks and attack analysis, management, as well as digital forensics. They receive rigorous training and certification in order to effectively protect NASA’s digital assets and react swiftly to new cyber-attacks.

Collaboration is the key to The NASA Security Operations Center SOC’s success when it comes to tackling cyber-attacks. It collaborates with other agencies of the government as well as cybersecurity organisations and industrial partners to communicate the latest threat information and best practices as well as resources. This collaboration approach improves the overall security posture of NASA and enhances the defense of the entire organization against cyber threats.


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