The U.S. Army relies on positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) signals to operate critical equipment. Credit: U.S. Army

WASHINGTON — TrustPoint, a startup developing a next-generation global navigation satellite system, announced Dec. 18 it selected SpiderOak to provide cybersecurity for its future network.

TrustPoint, based in Dulles, Virginia, plans to deploy a constellation of small satellites to deliver positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services for commercial and national security applications. 

Chris DeMay, founder and chief operating officer of TrustPoint, said the company selected SpiderOak’s OrbitSecure software to ensure “cybersecurity, mission resilience and data reliability.” 

The company uses a so-called zero-trust architecture where network users by default are not trusted and special keys are required to access encrypted data. OrbitSecure also uses blockchain for data transactions so every modification made to the ledger is time stamped and signed.

Space, ground equipment

The OrbitSecure software will be used across the space and ground segments, the company said.

TrustPoint plans to start offering PNT services in a few years as it builds out its constellation. It launched two micro-satellites in 2023 to start demonstrating the technology. Target customers include the U.S. government and commercial industries in emerging sectors like drone delivery, self-driving cars, urban air mobility and augmented reality.

The agreement includes the use of the OrbitSecure 2.0 release, scheduled for 2025, which provides additional protection for PNT signals, SpiderOak said. This is a “proprietary authentication system to counter spoofing,” the act of intentionally transmitting fake navigation satellite signals to deceive a receiver about its position, navigation or timing.

Charles Beames, SpiderOak’s executive chairman, said TrustPoint is “the first of the new generation of commercial constellations to recognize the value of offering an end to end, software only, cybersecurity service.”

The OrbitSecure software stack, he said, “makes our customers’ data inaccessible to anyone without crypto keys, because we protect each data record on any network separately through a distributed ledger.”

“We always assume all networks have been or will be compromised by the most highly evolved threats,” Beames said. “By protecting at the data record level, our customers can be certain that the data is secure and its provenance verified.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...