In January 2003, the Director, National Security Space Architect, requested that the NSTAC conduct a study of infrastructure protection measures for SATCOM systems. In response, the NSTAC established the Satellite Task Force (STF) to analyze and assess SATCOM systems' vulnerabilities and make Presidential-level policy recommendations on how the Federal Government should work with industry to mitigate vulnerabilities to the satellite infrastructure. The STF concluded its analysis of satellite security in January 2004; based on the STF's analysis and review of related policy issues, the NSTAC recommended that the President:
- Direct the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, to develop a national policy with respect to the provisioning and management of commercial SATCOM services integral to NS/EP communications, recognizing the vital and unique capabilities commercial satellites provide for global military operations, diplomatic missions, and homeland security contingency support;
- Fund the Department of Homeland Security to implement a commercial SATCOM NS/EP improvement program within the National Communications System to procure and manage the non-Department of Defense satellite facilities and services necessary to increase the robustness of Government communications; and
- Appoint several members to represent service providers and associations from all sectors of the commercial satellite industry to the NSTAC to increase satellite industry involvement in NS/EP.
Based on this request, the NSTAC reestablished the STF in November 2008 to review and update the 2004 Satellite Task Force Report with an emphasis on the protection of ground infrastructure and mitigation of cyber threats. The report reviewed and provided an update on the recommendations contained in the 2004 report, presented a first-ever look at the commercial satellite industry's concerns regarding cybersecurity, and identified new threat mitigation techniques and developing technologies of the commercial satellite communications sector. The STF concluded its analysis of satellite security in November 2009; based on the STF's analysis and review of related policy issues, the NSTAC recommended that the President:
- Direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish, consistent with the conclusion of the NSTAC Cybersecurity Collaboration Report, an operational mechanism for the Government and private sector to collaborate and coordinate to prevent, detect, mitigate, and respond, in a trusted environment, to cyber threats and cyber events.
- Establish a Government-sponsored Joint Coordinating Center (JCC) for satellite industry representatives and other critical infrastructure and key resources sector stakeholders. The JCC's primary mission would focus on robust information sharing to develop and share cyber situational awareness, and would institutionalize the time-sensitive processes and procedures to detect, prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyber incidents of national and international consequence.
- The JCC would build upon the current capabilities of the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, and incorporate other existing cyber incident monitoring and response entities.
- The JCC capability should be located in a Government facility with continuous operations, supporting tools, and collaboration capabilities.
- Direct the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security to fund a comprehensive information sharing and operational collaboration program with key industry partners to systematically reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI).
- Early efforts between the DoD's Global Satellite Communications Support Center (GSSC) and industry, though focused on DoD, indicate that better integration between Government and industry on planning and operational matters would yield substantial benefits and help mitigate significant EMI/RFI vulnerabilities; the GSSC is one candidate to become the single Government focal point.
- DoD continues to develop and field systems to detect, identify, geolocate, and report on satellite service interference from both unintentional and deliberate sources. The level of proposed operational interaction and information sharing between DoD systems and the commercial satellite industry remains unclear, but such systems could become useful tools to help support commercial operator efforts to address interference.
- Direct the Secretary of Defense to make safety of flight and the preservation of the space environment the leading national security drivers for enhanced space situational awareness efforts.
- The U.S. Government has a strong interest in preserving the space environment. Through improved data collection and processing, and close collaboration with industry, the Government can play an important role in encouraging safe and responsible space flight operations and can avoid the creation of unnecessary, dangerous space debris. In particular, DoD should:
- Continue and expand the Commercial and Foreign Entities Program under which the U.S. Government currently shares orbital information with the private sector. In particular, the Secretary of Defense should provide high-accuracy Government data on existing space debris to all space operators and routinely share operational and flight data with commercial service providers. The data exchange between the U.S. Government and commercial operators should be automated to the greatest extent possible, and should include the most accurate, operator-supplied data on satellite locations and planned maneuvers. DoD, in conjunction with commercial operators, should begin to develop common operational protocols for handling routine and emergency situations.
- Augment existing space surveillance capabilities through innovative programs such as hosting Government payloads/sensors on commercial satellites. Every satellite launched into space is potentially a sensor that can help extend the capabilities of an evolved Space Surveillance Network.
- Direct the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to plan, in consultation with industry, for future satellite services, and to establish and enforce a uniform set of U.S. Government-wide mission assurance requirements (similar to that of the current DoD Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) Satellite Transmission Services-Global (DSTS-G) model) for fixed and mobile satellite communications providers serving the NS/EP community.
- Satellite operators routinely plan to replace existing satellites with updated or enhanced systems to meet commercial and potential Government user requirements. Unlike other commercial satellite users, the Government does not engage with industry in planning its long-term communication needs. Typically, funding for DoD commercial SATCOM mobile and fixed satellite services comes from one-year increments of supplemental funding, as opposed to programmed funding lines, making long-term forecasting difficult. As a result, the Government relies entirely on the "spot market" to meet long term service needs, risking shortfalls in commercial satellite availability when critical needs arise. Representatives from the Government should meet with the commercial satellite industry no less than annually to engage in planning long-term communications needs.
- Some satellite operators have made substantial investments in new systems and procedures to meet evolving mission assurance requirements. The Government should build on the experience it has gained in the implementation of the information assurance process in the current DSTS-G contract to uniformly enforce its information security requirements for all of the satellite contracts that it awards. New processes should be implemented in a manner that provides an incentive for commercial providers to maintain and upgrade the security and integrity of networks used for critical NS/EP functions.
- The Government should make appropriate investments to ensure the availability of satellite-based priority communication services necessary to increase the robustness and reach of NS/EP Government communications, both before and during an emergency.
- Fund research and development to evolve key satellite solutions such as multiple spot beams and unified packet processing systems to enable next generation networks for integrated voice, video, and data services.