Satcom Frontier

New and Emerging Cyber Security Threats in Satellite Communications

May 16, 2013

Even with troop draw-downs in the Middle East, there is an increased demand for Airborne ISR and UAS applications, as well as higher data rates to support all applications – especially for high-definition video.   

With the rise of cyber attacks and jamming incidents, military and government organizations need to ensure that these growing networks continue to be highly reliable and capable.  

Global Military Communications (Page 20), recently interviewed Mark Daniels, Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Intelsat General, who discussed how Intelsat General is poised to meet these opportunities and challenges.

Daniels pointed out that the demand for Airborne ISR and UAS applications is being driven by increased U.S. military activity in hotspots like North Africa, Asia Pacific, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.  In addition, activities along the U.S. borders, and in Central America and the northern part of South America, are causing increased demand.

As the U.S. military moves into these other regions, the challenge of cyber security will be even greater as more adversaries will try to counter U.S. operations. The cyber and jamming challenges will force the military to focus on denying the adversary control of the area of operations, including the communications in that region. 

This concept, referred to as Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD), has been a military priority for a long time and is even more important today with the explosive growth of cyber attacks on the critical communications architecture that the military must use to successfully achieve their missions.  This term applies to the satellite communications sector, as many of America’s adversaries continue developing capabilities to prevent the country’s operational effectiveness in these regions.

As Daniels highlighted in the article, spacecraft with beam shaping can provide anti-jam capabilities.  IGC is also developing more advanced solutions that change the shapes of the beams to adapt to these threats. These are all part of the company's “Anticipate, Withstand, Recover and Evolve” approach, which aims to mitigate A2AD threats.

As America’s adversaries become more sophisticated in developing cyber and jamming capabilities, the country needs to ensure that all satellite networks are reliable and can withstand attacks.

By building in next-generation capabilities such as steerable spot beams and other cybersecurity solutions, our nation can further embrace satellite communications solutions that advance the mission – even in the face of our toughest threats.

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