The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued an alert on March 17 warning of possible threats to U.S. and international satellite communication (SATCOM) networks.

CISA and the FBI are urging SATCOM providers and their network customers – especially critical infrastructure organizations that rely on satellite networks to bolster their cybersecurity defenses – to immediately take these mitigation steps:

  • Harden authentication and enforce least privilege;
  • Deploy encryption;
  • Patch software and audit system configurations;
  • Monitor logs for “suspicious activity”; and
  • Solidify incident response and business continuity plans.

“Successful intrusions into SATCOM networks could create risk in SATCOM network providers’ customer environments,” the alert reads.

Given the current geopolitical climate, CISA’s Shields Up initiative requests that all SATCOM operators and their customers “significantly lower their threshold for reporting and sharing indications of malicious cyber activity.”

CISA launched the initiative in February, citing fears that sanctions against Russia have heightened the risk of cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure and organizations. The alert acknowledges that providers and customers of U.S. satellite networks may be in Russia’s crosshairs as the conflict over Ukraine’s sovereignty continues.

The advisory also comes as the National Security Agency, in partnership with France and Ukrainian intelligence, investigate an attack on Viasat that disrupted Ukraine’s broadband satellite access coinciding with Russia’s invasion on Feb. 28.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.