CISA and the FBI issued a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory for the SATCOM ecosystem, following the cyberattack on the Viasat Satellite system. The Viasat attack shows the potential of what can happen when cyberspace and orbital space are intermingled, and while the Internet disruption will likely have a limited impact, it reveals how cyber attacks can be executed against these space assets to impact real-world operations. Satellites support several sectors and industries and contribute substantially to the global economy. Communications, Finance, Logistics, and Defense all rely on satellites to support their operations. Because of its increasing importance to sustain industries, the space sector as a whole is expected to be larger than oil in the next decade with an estimated worth of USD 3 trillion by 2050.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have released a warning to satellite communications network providers, advising them to increase their security. According to the advisory, the two agencies became aware of possible threats to satellite communication networks in the US and abroad. The agencies stated that successful intrusions could create risks for network customer environments. SATCOM operators and their customers have been advised to take mitigation actions following a major outage affecting Viasat’s internet service that provides fixed broadband to customers in Ukraine and elsewhere.
The Viasat outage started on February 28, coinciding with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On the same day, German energy firm Enercon reported that remote communications to 5,800 wind turbines was down due to a satellite outage. Therefore, the outages can have significant and widespread affects on companies and customers alike. Foreign security agencies are currently investigating the satellite access attack to determine the source of the issue. The agencies are recommending SATCOM operators review the security of communications to and from end-user terminals, and to review the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's February report, which details Russia's anti-satellite technologies, including directed energy weapons, for jamming civilian and military satellite GPS and communication services.
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