Critical Infrastructure Protection: Commercial Satellite Security
Should Be More Fully Addressed (30-AUG-02, GAO-02-781). 	 
                                                                 
Government and private-sector entities rely on satellites for	 
services such as communication, navigation, remote sensing,	 
imaging, and weather and meteorological support. Disruption of	 
satellite services, whether intentional or not, can have a major 
adverse economic impact. Techniques to protect satellite systems 
from unauthorized use and disruption include the use of robust	 
hardware on satellites, physical security and logical access	 
controls at ground stations, and encryption of the signals for	 
tracking and controlling the satellite and of the data being sent
to and from satellites. When using commercial satellites, federal
agencies reduce risks by securing the data links and ground	 
stations that send and receive data. However, federal agencies do
not control the security of the tracking and control links,	 
satellites, or tracking and control ground stations, which are	 
typically the responsibility of the satellite service provider.  
It is important to the nation's economy and security to protect  
against attacks on its computer-dependent critical		 
infrastructures (such as telecommunications, energy, and	 
transportation), many of which are privately owned. In light of  
the nation's growing reliance on commercial satellites to meet	 
military, civil, and private sector requirements, omitting	 
satellites from the nation's approach to protecting critical	 
infrastructure leaves an important aspect of our nation's	 
infrastructures without focused attention.			 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-02-781 					        
    ACCNO:   A04799						        
  TITLE:     Critical Infrastructure Protection: Commercial Satellite 
Security Should Be More Fully Addressed 			 
     DATE:   08/30/2002 
  SUBJECT:   Defense capabilities				 
	     Military intelligence				 
	     Military satellites				 
	     National preparedness				 
	     Satellites 					 
	     Information resources management			 
	     Electronic data interchange			 
	     DOT Global Positioning System			 
	     Galaxy IV Satellite				 

                                                                 
Critical Infrastructure Protection: Commercial Satellite Security
Should Be More Fully Addressed (30-AUG-02, GAO-02-781). 	 
                                                                 
Government and private-sector entities rely on satellites for	 
services such as communication, navigation, remote sensing,	 
imaging, and weather and meteorological support. Disruption of	 
satellite services, whether intentional or not, can have a major 
adverse economic impact. Techniques to protect satellite systems 
from unauthorized use and disruption include the use of robust	 
hardware on satellites, physical security and logical access	 
controls at ground stations, and encryption of the signals for	 
tracking and controlling the satellite and of the data being sent
to and from satellites. When using commercial satellites, federal
agencies reduce risks by securing the data links and ground	 
stations that send and receive data. However, federal agencies do
not control the security of the tracking and control links,	 
satellites, or tracking and control ground stations, which are	 
typically the responsibility of the satellite service provider.  
It is important to the nation's economy and security to protect  
against attacks on its computer-dependent critical		 
infrastructures (such as telecommunications, energy, and	 
transportation), many of which are privately owned. In light of  
the nation's growing reliance on commercial satellites to meet	 
military, civil, and private sector requirements, omitting	 
satellites from the nation's approach to protecting critical	 
infrastructure leaves an important aspect of our nation's	 
infrastructures without focused attention.			 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-02-781 					        
    ACCNO:   A04799						        
  TITLE:     Critical Infrastructure Protection: Commercial Satellite 
Security Should Be More Fully Addressed 			 
     DATE:   08/30/2002 
  SUBJECT:   Defense capabilities				 
	     Military intelligence				 
	     Military satellites				 
	     National preparedness				 
	     Satellites 					 
	     Information resources management			 
	     Electronic data interchange			 
	     DOT Global Positioning System			 
	     Galaxy IV Satellite				 

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GAO-02-781

                                       A

Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations, Committee on

Governmental Affairs, U. S. Senate

August 2002 CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION

Commercial Satellite Security Should Be More Fully Addressed

GAO- 02- 781

Letter 1 Results in Brief 2 Background 4 Security Techniques Are Available
to Protect TT& C and Data Links,

Satellites, and Ground Stations 19 Federal Satellite Users Can Reduce
Risks Only in Certain Areas, and

National Policy Is Limited 25 National CIP Initiatives Addressing
Satellite Security Have Been

Limited 33 Conclusions 35 Recommendations 36 Agency Comments and Our
Evaluation 36

Appendixes

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 38

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense 40

Appendix III: Comments from the Department of Commerce 42

Appendix IV: Comments from the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration 45

Tables Table 1: Civilian Agency Use of Commercial Satellites 6 Table 2:
Unintentional Threats to Commercial Satellite Systems 10

Table 3: Intentional Threats to Commercial Satellite Systems 12 Table 4:
Security Techniques Available to Address Unintentional and Intentional
Threats 20

Figures Figure 1: Key Components of a Satellite System 8 Figure 2:
Entities with CIP Responsibilities as Outlined by

PDD 63 17 Figure 3: Commercial Satellite System Showing Components Not
Controlled by Government Agencies 28

Abbreviations

CIA Central Intelligence Agency CIAO Critical Infrastructure Assurance
Office CIP critical infrastructure protection CNSS Committee on National
Security Systems DOD Department of Defense EMP electromagnetic pulse EPA
Environmental Protection Agency FAA Federal Aviation Administration FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation FCC Federal Communications Commission FEMA
Federal Emergency Management Agency GPS Global Positioning System HHS
Department of Health and Human Services ISAC information sharing and
analysis center NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NCC National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications NDIA National
Defense Industrial Association NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration NSA National Security Agency NSTISSP National Security
Telecommunications and Information

Systems Security Policy NTIA National Telecommunications and Information
Administration NTISSP National Telecommunications and Information Systems
Security Policy OSTP Office of Science and Technology Policy PDD
Presidential Decision Directive RF radio frequency TT& C tracking,
telemetry, and control

Lett er

August 30, 2002 The Honorable Susan Collins Ranking Minority Member
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

Dear Senator Collins: Government and private- sector entities rely on
satellites for services such as communication, navigation, remote sensing,
imaging, and weather and meteorological support. Although the government
owns satellites, it also relies for certain services on satellites owned
and operated by commercial satellite service providers. For example, the
Department of Defense (DOD) typically relies on commercial satellites to
fulfill its communications and information transmission requirements for
non* mission- critical data and to augment its military satellite
capabilities. The importance of commercial satellites for DOD is evident
during times of conflict: according to a DOD

study, commercial communications satellites were used in 45 percent of all
communications between the United States and the Persian Gulf region
during Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. 1 Further, the federal government*s
reliance on commercial satellites is expected to grow.

The commercial satellite industry is also a critical component of the
worldwide and national economy: the industry generated $85 billion in
revenue in 2000. Accordingly, disruption of satellite services, whether
intentional or not, can have a major adverse economic impact. One
indication of the importance of satellite services was provided in 1998 by
the failure of the Galaxy IV satellite, which disrupted 80 to 90 percent
of 45

million pagers across the United States for 2 to 4 days and blocked credit
card authorization at point- of- sale terminals (such as gasoline pumps).
Satellites are vulnerable to various threats. Protecting satellite systems
against these threats requires attention to (1) the satellite; (2) the
satellite control ground stations, which perform tracking and control
functions to ensure that satellites remain in the proper orbits and which
monitor satellite performance; (3) the communications ground stations,
which

1 National Air Intelligence Center, Threats to U. S. Military Access to
Space, Document 14220989- 98 (Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio).

process the data being sent to and from satellites; and (4) communications
links between satellites and ground stations* both those that transmit the
tracking and control information and those that transmit the data.
Security threats to any part of the system could put government and
commercial functions at significant risk. Accordingly, at your request, we
reviewed (1) what security techniques are available to protect satellite
systems from

unauthorized use, disruption, or damage; (2) how federal agencies reduce
the risk associated with their use of commercial satellite systems; and
(3) what federal critical infrastructure protection (CIP) efforts are
being undertaken to address satellite system security through improved
government and private- sector cooperation. To accomplish these

objectives, we reviewed technical documents, policy, and directives and
interviewed pertinent officials from federal agencies and the private
sector involved in developing, operating, maintaining, and protecting
satellite systems. Appendix I provides further details on our objectives,
scope, and

methodology. Results in Brief Techniques to protect satellite systems from
unauthorized use and

disruption include the use of robust hardware on satellites, physical
security and logical access controls 2 at ground stations, and encryption
of the signals for tracking and controlling the satellite and of the data
being sent to and from satellites. Commercial satellite service providers
stated

that they provide some of these security techniques to meet most of their
customers* security requirements and that they base their decisions on
business objectives. For example, commercial satellite providers stated

that they use backup satellites and redundant satellite features to ensure
availability. However, commercial satellite providers generally do not use
the more stringent techniques used in national security satellites for
protection against deliberate disruption and exploitation. When using
commercial satellites, federal agencies reduce risks by securing the data
links and ground stations that send and receive data. However, federal
agencies do not control the security of the tracking and control links,
satellites, or tracking and control ground stations, which are typically
the responsibility of the satellite service provider. Further, although
the federal government relies on commercial satellites, federal

2 Logical access controls involve the use of computer hardware and
software to prevent or detect unauthorized access by requiring users to
input user identification numbers (IDs), passwords, or other identifiers
that are linked to predetermined access privileges.

customers make up only about 10 percent of the commercial satellite market
and accordingly have had limited influence over security techniques
employed by commercial satellite service providers. To mitigate risk, some
federal agencies also rely on redundant or backup capabilities, such as
additional satellite services. Aspects of satellite system security have
been addressed in federal policy, but this policy is limited because it
pertains only to satellite and supporting systems that are used for
national security information, addresses only techniques associated with
the links,

and does not have an enforcement mechanism. Without appropriate
governmentwide policy to address the security of all satellite components
and of non* national- security information, federal agencies may not, for
information with similar sensitivity and criticality, consistently (1)
secure data links and communication ground stations or (2) use satellites
that have certain security controls that enhance availability. Recent
initiatives

by the Executive Branch have acknowledged these policy limitations, but we
are not aware of specific actions to address them. It is important to our
nation*s economy and security to protect against attacks on its computer-
dependent critical infrastructures (such as telecommunications, energy,
and transportation), many of which are privately owned. In 1998,
Presidential Decision Directive 63 was issued to improve the federal
approach to protecting our nation*s critical infrastructures by
establishing partnerships between private- sector entities and the federal
government. However, the satellite industry has not been

included as part of this national effort, and there are no plans to
include it. In addition, the July 2002 national strategy for homeland
security does not suggest that the satellite industry be included in the
approach to protecting our critical infrastructures. 3 In light of the
nation*s growing reliance on commercial satellites to meet military,
civil, and private- sector requirements, omitting satellites from our
nation*s approach leaves a

critical aspect of our nation*s infrastructures without focused attention.
Because of the importance of the satellite industry to our nation, we
recommend that steps be taken to promote appropriate revisions to existing
policy and the development of new policy regarding the security of
satellite systems, to ensure that federal agencies appropriately address
the use of commercial satellites, including the sensitivity of
information,

security techniques, and enforcement mechanisms. In addition, we are 3
Office of Homeland Security, National Strategy for Homeland Security
(Washington, D. C.: July 2002).

recommending that commercial satellites be identified as a critical
infrastructure sector (or as part of an already identified critical
infrastructure sector) in the national CIP strategy, to help ensure that
these assets are protected from unauthorized access and disruption. We
received written comments on a draft of this report from the Department of
Defense; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department
of Commerce; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The
Departments of Defense and Commerce and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration concurred with our findings and recommendations (see apps.
II, III, and IV, respectively) and

provided technical comments that have been incorporated in the report, as
appropriate (some of these technical comments are reproduced in the
appendixes). We received technical oral comments from officials from the
Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, Department of Commerce; Federal
Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation; Office of
Management and Budget; and United States Secret Service, Department of
Treasury; in addition, we received written and oral technical comments
from five participating private- sector entities. Comments from all these

organizations have been incorporated into the report, as appropriate.
Background Satellites provide many significant services, including
communication, navigation, remote sensing, imaging, and weather and
meteorological support. Satellites support direct radio communication and
provide television broadcast and cable relay services, as well as home
reception. Satellite services also support applications such as mobile and
cellular communication, telemedicine, cargo tracking, point- of- sale
transactions, and Internet access. Satellites also provide redundancy and
backup capabilities to ground- based communications, as was demonstrated
after the events of September 11, 2001, when satellites provided critical
communications while ground- based lines were unavailable.

The commercial satellite industry includes manufacturers, the launch
industry, service providers, and ground equipment manufacturers.
Manufacturers design and build satellites, supporting systems, and ground
stations. The launch industry uses launch vehicles, powered by rocket
engines, to place satellites in orbit. Once commercial satellites are in
orbit, they are operated by service providers, who lease available
services.

Commercial satellite service clients include telecommunication companies,
television networks, financial institutions, major retailers, Internet
service providers, and governments. Some companies resell leased satellite
services to their clients. For example, major telecommunication companies
sometimes include satellite services in their product line. Ground
equipment manufacturers build and sell the items needed to use satellite
services, such as ground station hardware (antennas), data terminals,
mobile terminals (truck- mounted units), and consumer

electronics (satellite phones). For the year 2000, the commercial
satellite industry generated revenues of $85.1 billion: 4 $17. 2 billion
for satellite manufacturing, $8. 5 billion for the launch industry, 5
$41.7 billion for satellite services, and $17.7 billion for ground
equipment manufacturing, 6 according to an industry association.

Federal agencies also own and operate satellites. For example, the U. S.
military and intelligence communities have satellites to provide
capabilities for reconnaissance, surveillance, early warning of missile
launches, weather forecasts, navigation, and communications. In addition,
some federal civilian agencies own satellites that are used for
communications,

scientific studies, and weather forecasting. Further, federal agencies use
commercial satellites for services such as communications, data
transmission, and remote sensing. For example, DOD typically relies on
commercial satellites to fulfill its communications and information
transmission requirements for non* mission- critical data and to augment
its military satellite capabilities. The National Defense Industrial
Association (NDIA) reported in December 1998 that the government*s overall
use of commercial satellites for communications and

4 All revenues include payments made to subcontractors. 5 The amount for
launch services includes revenues from both government- owned and
commercially owned payloads.

6 The manufacturing indicators include amounts from commercial companies
manufacturing for both government and commercial customers.

remote sensing is expected to grow significantly because of increased
communications requirements. According to a DOD official, the department*s
reliance on commercial satellites is expected to grow through 2020. After
2020, DOD officials anticipate that commercial satellites will provide
only surge capacity, as additional military satellites are expected to

be operational. In addition to the U. S. military, several civilian
government agencies also rely on commercial satellite systems. Table 1
provides brief descriptions of the use of commercial satellites by four
civilian agencies included in our review.

Table 1: Civilian Agency Use of Commercial Satellites Agency Use of
commercial satellites

National Aeronautics and Space To serve as an alternative means of
transmitting Administration launch commands and scientific data when there
are geographical limitations to terrestrial communications networks United
States Secret Service To provide, on a limited basis, communications when
other methods are not available

Federal Aviation Administration To transmit corrected Global Positioning
System data to aircraft and for remote location air traffic control
communications National Oceanic and Atmospheric To disseminate imagery,
graphic, and text data Administration/ on weather conditions around the
earth National Weather Service

Source: Cited agencies. Collectively, the federal government does not
dominate the commercial satellite market. According to commercial
satellite industry officials, the revenue provided to the satellite
industry by the federal government represents about 10 percent of the
commercial satellite market.

However, the importance of commercial satellites for government operations
is evident during times of conflict. For example, according to a DOD
study, commercial communications satellites were used in 45 percent of all
communications between the United States and the Persian Gulf region
during Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. Further, during operations in Somalia
from December 1992 through March 1994, U. S. military and

commercial satellite coverage was not available, so Russian commercial
satellites were used. DOD currently reports approximately 50 percent
reliance on commercial satellites for wideband services, 7 which are
leased through the Defense Information Systems Agency*s Commercial
Satellite Communications Branch. 8

The commercial satellite industry is a global industry that includes many
foreign- owned corporations as well as partnerships between U. S. and
foreign corporations. As a result, the U. S. government depends on foreign
and international companies. For example, some commercial space

systems of foreign origin are used by the U. S. military for imagery and
communications support. NDIA reported that foreign ownership of satellites
is expected to grow and predicted that by 2010, 80 percent of commercial
communication satellite services could be provided by foreignowned
companies. This globalization of the satellite industry could affect the
availability of commercial satellite systems to U. S. government or
commercial entities through frequency allocations, tariffs, politics, and

international law. Satellites Operate through a A satellite system
consists of ground stations, tracking and control links System of Links
and Ground (commonly referred to as the tracking, telemetry, and control
(TT& C) Stations

links) and data links, and satellites. Figure 1 illustrates the basic
satellite system components.

7 Wideband encompasses data rates greater than 64 kilobits per second. 8
The Defense Information Systems Agency*s Commercial Satellite
Communications Branch is responsible for leasing commercial satellite
services for DOD.

Figure 1: Key Components of a Satellite System

Source: GAO analysis.

As the figure shows, two kinds of ground stations are associated with
satellites: control stations and communications stations. Control stations
perform tracking and control functions to ensure that satellites remain in
the proper orbits (commonly referred to by the industry as *station

keeping*) and to monitor their performance. Communications ground stations
process imagery, voice, or other data and provide, in many cases, a link
to ground- based terrestrial network interconnections.

The links between the two types of ground stations and the satellites are
referred to by their function: TT& C and data links. TT& C links exchange
commands and status information between control ground stations and
satellites. Data links exchange communications, navigation, and imaging
data between communications ground stations and satellites. As shown in
figure 1, links are also distinguished by the direction of transmission:
uplinks go from Earth to space, and downlinks from space to Earth.
Satellites can also communicate with each other; these links are referred
to as cross- links.

The final component of the system is the satellite. Every satellite has a

*payload* and a *bus.* The payload contains all the equipment a satellite
needs to perform its function, and it differs for every type of satellite.
For example, the payload for a weather satellite includes cameras to take
pictures of cloud formations, while the payload for a communications
satellite includes transponders to relay data (for example, television or
telephone signals). 9 The bus carries the payload and additional equipment

into space and provides electrical power, computers, and propulsion to the
entire spacecraft. A satellite can serve simply as a relay between a
source and a destination (for example, a communications satellite), or it
can perform processing of data and communicate the data to a
communications ground station (for example, an imaging satellite).
Satellite Systems Are

Satellite systems face unintentional threats to all parts of the system;
such Vulnerable to a Range of

threats can be ground- based, space- based, and interference- oriented.
The Threats

probability of these threats occurring and the difficulty of exploiting
these vulnerabilities vary. Table 2 displays some of these threats and the
vulnerable components. 9 A transponder is an automatic device that
receives, amplifies, and retransmits a signal on a different frequency.

Table 2: Unintentional Threats to Commercial Satellite Systems Type of
threat Vulnerable satellite system components Ground- based:

Natural occurrences (including Ground stations; TT& C and data links
earthquakes and floods; adverse temperature environments)

Power outages

Space- based:

Space environment (solar, cosmic Satellites; TT& C and data links
radiation; temperature variations) Space objects (including debris)

Interference- oriented:

Solar activity; atmospheric and solar Satellites; TT& C and data links
disturbances Unintentional human interference

(caused by terrestrial and space- based wireless systems) Source: DOD and
GAO analysis.

Ground stations are vulnerable to damage or destruction by natural
terrestrial threats such as earthquakes, floods, thunderstorms, lightning,
dust storms, heavy snows, tropical storms, tornadoes, corrosive sea spray,
and salt air. In addition, they could also be affected by natural
conditions

and environmental hazards, such as air pollution and adverse temperature
environments, as well as power outages.

Satellites are physically vulnerable to space- based environmental
anomalies resulting from natural conditions and man- made artifacts.
Space- based threats include solar and cosmic radiation and related
phenomena, solar disturbances, temperature variations, and natural objects
(meteoroids and asteroids). In addition, the growing number of satellites
is contributing to the problem of space *junk* (spacecraft and

debris). As of May 2002, DOD identified over 9, 000 man- made objects in
space, including active satellites. As additional satellites are developed
and deployed, DOD officials stated that the threat of collisions caused by
the proliferation of satellites and accompanying debris could increase.

Links are vulnerable both to natural conditions (in space and in the
atmosphere) and to congestion. Links can be severely degraded by the
effects of solar activity and atmospheric and solar disturbances. Both
orbital and spectral congestion are a threat to links (as well as to
satellites). 10 Such congestion may restrict the future use of potential
orbits and frequencies and cause unintentional interference to satellite
services.

According to one commercial service provider, satellite service providers
worldwide work together to resolve interference problems, which are
common. In addition, commercial satellite interference is regulated both
internationally and nationally. The International Telecommunication Union

specifies interference resolution policies and procedures, including those
for harmful interference. 11 Further, within the United States, the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 12 has the capability to track the
location of interference, at a service provider*s request. Also, service
providers told us that they could locate and identify unintentional or
unauthorized users through a technique called triangulation. Once an

unauthorized user is located, a commercial service provider can jam that
user*s signal if the user cannot be persuaded to stop using the satellite.
However, according to industry officials, typically an unauthorized user
would be identified, located, and contacted through a combination of
industry and government resources before such jamming would be needed.

In addition, satellite systems are vulnerable to many forms of intentional
human attacks that are intended to destroy ground stations and satellites
or interfere with the TT& C links, data links, and cross- links. According
to DOD and the private sector, the probability of these threats occurring
and

10 The greatly increasing number of commercial and military communications
systems worldwide, including the growing number of satellites, is putting
a high demand on certain frequency spectra. Orbital/ spectral congestion
may restrict the future use of potential orbits and frequencies, further
complicate and lengthen host nation approval and landing rights processes,
and require more sophisticated systems in terms of frequency agility,
antennas, bandwidth- efficient modulation, and so forth to maximize
flexibility. Such flexibility minimizes future risks arising from changes
in spectrum allocation and the electromagnetic environment.

11 The International Telecommunication Union is an international
organization within the United Nations system in which governments and the
private sector work together to coordinate the operation of
telecommunication networks and services and advance the development of
communications technology. 12 The Federal Communications Commission is an
independent U. S. government agency. The FCC was established by the
Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and
international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and
cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of
Columbia, and U. S. possessions.

the difficulty of exploiting these vulnerabilities vary. Table 3 shows
some of these intentional threats.

Table 3: Intentional Threats to Commercial Satellite Systems Type of
threat Vulnerable satellite system components Ground- based:

Physical destruction Ground stations; communications networks Sabotage All
systems

Space- based (anti- satellite):

Interceptors (space mines and space- tospace Satellites missiles)
Directed- energy weapons (laser energy,

Satellites; TT& C and data links electromagnetic pulse) Interference and
content- oriented:

Cyber attacks (malicious software, denial All systems and communications
networks of service, spoofing, data interception, and so forth)

Jamming All systems Source: GAO analysis.

All types of ground stations are potentially vulnerable to threats of
physical attack and sabotage. These threats could target all satellite
ground components, including launch facilities, command and control
facilities, and supporting infrastructures.

Space- based threats to satellites are proliferating as a result of the
growing availability of technology around the world. According to DOD,
potential space- based weapons include interceptors, such as space mines
and orbiting space- to- space missiles, and directed- energy weapons.
Directedenergy weapons include ground- based, airborne, and space- based
weapons that use laser energy to damage or destroy satellite services, and
nuclear weapons that generate nuclear radiation and electronic pulses,
resulting in direct damage to the orbital electronics by the primary and
secondary

effects of a detonation. Ground stations, links, and supporting
communications networks are all vulnerable to cyber attacks. Potential
cyber attacks include denial of service, malicious software, unauthorized
monitoring and disclosure of sensitive information (data interception),
injection of fake signals or traffic

(* spoofing*), and unauthorized modification or deliberate corruption of
network information, services, and databases. For example, malicious
software (such as computer viruses) can be (1) implanted into computer
systems during development or inserted during operations; (2) used to
manipulate network protocols, deny data or service, destroy data or
software, and corrupt, modify, or compromise data; and (3) used to attack
processor- controlled transmission equipment, control systems, or the
information being passed.

Links are particularly susceptible to electronic interference threats
capable of disrupting or denying satellite communications. These threats
include spoofing and jamming. A spoofer emits false, but plausible,
signals for deception purposes. If false commands could be inserted into a
satellite*s command receiver (spoofing the receiver), they could cause the
spacecraft to tumble or otherwise destroy itself. It is also feasible to
insert false information or computer viruses into the terrestrial computer
networks

associated with a space system, either remotely or through an on- site
connection. Such an attack could lead to space system degradation or even
complete loss of spacecraft utility.

A jammer emits noise- like signals in an effort to mask or prevent the
reception of desired signals and can be used to disrupt uplinks,
downlinks, and cross- links. An uplink jammer attempts to inject noise or
some other signal into the targeted satellites* uplink receivers. In
general, an uplink jammer must be roughly as powerful as the emitter
associated with the link being jammed. Downlink jamming attempts to inject
noise or some other signal directly into earth terminal receivers. The
targets of downlink jammers are groundbased

satellite data receivers, ranging from large fixed ground sites to
handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) user terminals. Since downlink
jammers have a range advantage over the space- based emitters, they can
often be much less powerful. Downlink jamming is generally easier to
accomplish than uplink jamming, since very low- power jammers are often

suitable. Since a downlink may be received by multiple earth terminals, it
is often more difficult to jam more than a few earth terminals through
downlink jamming than through uplink jamming, especially if the receiver
terminals are dispersed across a significant geographical area. A cross-
link jammer attempts to inject noise or some other signal between two
satellites communicating directly with each other. Because it is
considered the most complex and difficult approach to satellite jamming,

according to a DOD document, 13 cross- link jamming is considered a lower
probability threat than uplink and downlink jamming. Satellite
Vulnerabilities

Satellite services have been disrupted or denied as a result of system
Have Led to Disruptions

vulnerabilities. Below is a list of satellite- related incidents that have
been publicly reported in which services were interrupted unintentionally
or intentionally because of satellites* vulnerabilities to jamming and
equipment failure:  In April 1986, an insider, working alone under the
name *Captain

Midnight* at a commercial satellite transmission center in central
Florida, succeeded in disrupting a cable network*s eastern uplink feed to
the Galaxy I satellite. Although this event was a minor annoyance, it had
the potential for disrupting services to satellite users.  Starting in
1995, MED- TV, a Kurdish satellite channel, was intentionally jammed (and
eventually had its license revoked) because its broadcasts promoted
terrorism and violence.

 In 1997, while a GPS transmitter was being tested on the ground, it
unintentionally interfered with the GPS receivers of a commercial aircraft
in the area. The plane temporarily lost all of its GPS information.  In
1997, Indonesia intentionally interfered with and denied the services of a
commercial satellite belonging to the South Pacific island kingdom of
Tonga because of a satellite orbital slot dispute.

 In 1998, the failure of PANAMSAT*s Galaxy IV satellite, attributable to
an on- board processor anomaly, disabled 80 to 90 percent of 45 million
pagers across the United States for 2 to 4 days, leaving approximately 70
percent of a major oil company*s customers without the ability to pay for
services at the pump.

13 Department of Defense, Advanced Military Satellite Communications
Capstone Requirements (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Apr. 24, 1998).

Critical Infrastructure Recognizing that our nation*s critical
infrastructures, including Protection Policy Addresses telecommunications,
energy, banking and finance, transportation, and

Information Security of Key satellites, are the foundation of our economy,
national security, and quality Sectors

of life, in October 1997 the President*s Commission on Critical
Infrastructure Protection issued a report recommending several measures to
achieve a higher level of protection of critical infrastructures. These
measures included industry cooperation and information sharing, the
creation of a national organization structure, a revised program of
research and development, a broad program of awareness and education, and

reconsideration of laws related to infrastructure protection. The report
also described the potentially devastating implications of poor
information security from a national perspective. The report stated that a
comprehensive effort would need to *include a system of surveillance,
assessment, early warning, and response mechanisms to mitigate the
potential for cyber threats.* 14 Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 63,
issued in 1998 to improve the

federal government*s approach to critical infrastructure protection (CIP),
describes a strategy for cooperative efforts by government and the private
sector to protect critical computer- dependent operations. The directive
called on the federal government to serve as a model of how infrastructure
assurance is best achieved, and it designated lead agencies to work with
private- sector and government entities. To accomplish its goals, PDD 63

designated and established organizations to provide central coordination
and support, including

 the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO), an interagency
office that is housed in the Department of Commerce, which was established
to develop a national plan for CIP on the basis of infrastructure plans
developed by the private sector and federal agencies; and

 the National Infrastructure Protection Center, an organization within
the FBI, which was expanded to address national- level threat assessment,
warning, vulnerability, and law enforcement investigation and response.

14 Report of the President*s Commission on Critical Infrastructure
Protection, Critical Foundations: Protecting America*s Infrastructures
(October 1997).

To ensure coverage of critical sectors, PDD 63 also identified eight
privatesector infrastructures and five special functions; information and
communication is one of the eight infrastructures identified. Further, the
directive designated lead federal agencies to work with the private-
sector entities. For example, Commerce is the lead agency for the
information and communication sector (the responsible organization within
Commerce is the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration), and

the Department of Energy is the lead agency for the electrical power
industry. Similarly, for special function areas, DOD is responsible for
national defense, and the Department of State is responsible for foreign
affairs. To facilitate private- sector participation, PDD 63 also
encouraged creation of information sharing and analysis centers (ISACs)
that could serve as a mechanism for gathering, analyzing, and
appropriately sanitizing and disseminating information to and from
infrastructure sectors and the federal government through the FBI*s
National Infrastructure Protection Center. 15 Although most of the ISACs
are operated by private- sector organizations, the telecommunications ISAC
is operated by a government

entity, the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications (NCC),
which is part of the National Communications System. 16 In September 2001,
we reported that six ISACs within five infrastructures had been
established to gather and share information about vulnerabilities,
attempted intrusions, and attacks within their respective infrastructure
sectors and to meet specific sector objectives. 17 In addition, at that
time, we reported that the formation of at least three more ISACs for
various infrastructure sectors was being discussed. Figure 2 displays a
high- level overview of several

organizations with CIP responsibilities, as outlined by PDD 63. 15 See U.
S. General Accounting Office, Critical Infrastructure Protection:
Significant Challenges in Developing National Capabilities, GAO- 01- 323
(Washington, D. C.: Apr. 25, 2001) for our latest report on the progress
of the National Infrastructure Protection Center.

16 In 1963, the National Communications System was established by
presidential memorandum as a federal interagency group responsible for
national security and emergency preparedness telecommunications. These
responsibilities include planning for, developing, and implementing
enhancements to the national telecommunications infrastructure, which now
includes the Internet, to achieve effectiveness in managing and

using national telecommunication resources to support the federal
government during any emergency. 17 U. S. General Accounting Office,
Combating Terrorism: Selected Challenges and Related Recommendations, GAO-
01- 822 (Washington, D. C.: Sept. 20, 2001).

Figure 2: Entities with CIP Responsibilities as Outlined by PDD 63

Source: CIAO.

The most recent federal cyber CIP guidance was issued in October 2001,
when President Bush signed Executive Order 13231, Critical Infrastructure
Protection in the Information Age, which continues many PDD 63 activities
by focusing on cyber threats to critical infrastructures and creating the
President*s Board on CIP to coordinate cyber- related federal efforts. The
Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security chairs the board.

In July 2002, the President issued a national strategy for homeland
security that identifies 14 industry sectors, including the 8 identified
in PDD 63. The additional 6 are agriculture, food, defense industrial
base, chemical industry and hazardous materials, postal and shipping, and
national monuments and icons. 18 18 Office of Homeland Security, National
Strategy for Homeland Security (July 2002).

Current Space Policy The U. S. national space policy provides goals and
guidelines for the U. S.

Addresses Aspects of space program, including the use of commercial
satellites. In February

Federal Uses of Commercial 1991, the President issued National Space
Policy Directive 3, which Satellites

requires U. S. government agencies to use commercially available space
products and services to the fullest extent feasible. Presidential
Decision Directive 49, dated September 19, 1996, provides goals for the U.
S. space program and establishes space guidelines. For example, a
guideline regarding the commercial space industry stated that U. S.
government agencies shall purchase commercially available space goods and
services to the fullest extent feasible, and that, except for reasons of
national

security or public safety, they shall not conduct activities with
commercial applications that preclude or deter commercial space
activities. Neither the National Space Policy Directive 3 nor PDD 49
specifically addresses the

security of satellite systems used by federal agencies. However, PDD 49
states that critical capabilities necessary for executing space missions
must be ensured. Security of satellite systems has been addressed in
policy documents issued by the National Security Telecommunications and
Information Systems Security Committee (recently renamed the Committee on
National Security Systems). The initial policy was set forth in National
Policy on Application of Communications Security to U. S.

Civil and Commercial Space Systems, National Telecommunications and
Information Systems Security Policy (NTISSP) No. 1 (June 17, 1985), which
governed the protection of command and control uplinks for

government- used satellites other than military. This policy, which
applies to space systems launched 5 years from the policy date (June 17,
1985), limits government and government contractor use of U. S. civil and
commercial satellites to those systems using accepted techniques to
protect the command and control uplinks. In January 2001, a new policy
governing satellite system security was issued, superseding NTISSP No. 1:
National Information Assurance (IA) Policy for U. S. Space Systems,
National Security Telecommunications and Information Systems Security
Policy (NSTISSP) No. 12. NSTISSP

No. 12, which focuses on systems used for U. S. national security
information, aims to ensure that information assurance 19 is factored into
*the planning, design, launch, sustained operation, and deactivation of 19
Information assurance refers to information operations intended to protect
and defend information and information systems by ensuring their
availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and
nonrepudiation. This includes providing for restoration of information

systems by incorporating protection, detection, and reaction capabilities.

federal and commercial space systems used to collect, generate, process,
store, display, or transmit and receive such information.* The policy also
includes a provision addressing commercial imagery satellites that may be

used to satisfy national security requirements during periods of conflict
or war. The policy states that approved U. S. cryptographies shall be used
to provide confidentiality for (1) command and control uplinks, (2) data
links that transmit national security information between the ground and
the space platforms, (3) cross- links between space platforms, and (4)
downlinks from space platforms to mission ground or processing centers. 20
Security Techniques

A range of security techniques is available for protecting satellite
systems: Are Available to

for example, using encryption on TT& C and data links, using robust parts
on the satellites, and applying physical and cyber security controls at
the Protect TT& C and Data

ground stations. The application of these techniques varies across federal
Links, Satellites, and agencies and the private sector. Commercial
satellite service providers

Ground Stations typically use some of these security techniques to meet
most of their customers* security requirements, and they base their
decisions on

business objectives. Generally, the military applies more stringent
security techniques to their satellites than do civilian agencies or the
private sector. Table 4 provides an overview of security techniques by
satellite system component.

20 Approved U. S. cryptographies are hardware, firmware, or software
implementations of algorithms that have been reviewed and approved by the
National Security Agency, the purposes of which are to provide
authentication or confidentiality for national security information or
systems.

Table 4: Security Techniques Available to Address Unintentional and
Intentional Threats Satellite system components Security techniques
available Type of threat addressed

TT& C and data links Encryption Cyber attacks High- power radio frequency
(RF)

Jamming uplink Spread spectrum Jamming

Unique digital interface Cyber attacks, jamming Satellites Hardening Space
environment, interceptors, directed- energy weapons

Redundancy Sabotage, space objects, interceptors, directed- energy weapons
Ground stations Physical and logical security

Physical destruction, sabotage, cyber attacks, jamming, power outages
controls Hardening Natural occurrences, physical destruction, cyber
attacks, jamming

Redundancy Natural occurrences, physical destruction, sabotage, power
outages Source: GAO analysis.

Various Techniques Can Techniques to protect satellite links include the
use of encryption, highpower

Protect TT& C and Data radio frequency (RF) uplinks, spread spectrum
communications,

Links and a digital interface unique to each satellite. Commercial
satellite service

providers, federal satellite owners and operators, and customers stated
that they typically use at least one of these techniques. Usually, only
the military uses spread spectrum techniques. Both TT& C and data links
can be protected by encryption: generally, for TT& C links, the tracking
and control uplink is encrypted, while the telemetry downlink is not.
Encryption is the transformation of ordinary data (commonly referred to as
plaintext) into a code form (ciphertext) and back into plaintext, using a
mathematical process called an algorithm. Encryption can be used on data
to (1) hide information content, (2) prevent undetected modification, and
(3) prevent unauthorized use.

Different levels of encryption provide different levels of protection,
including encryption approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) that
is used for national security information. NSTISSP No. 12 requires
approved U. S. cryptographies on TT& C and data links for U. S. space
systems transmitting national security information. For satellite systems
transmitting non* national- security information, there is no policy that
security is required for the links, but satellite service providers and
federal

satellite owners and operators included in our review stated that they
protect tracking and control uplinks with encryption. However, NSA
officials stated that not all commercial providers* tracking and control
uplinks are encrypted. Concerning the data links, customers are

responsible for determining whether they are encrypted or not. Most
commercial satellite systems are designed for *open access,* meaning that
a transmitted signal is broadcast universally and unprotected. A second
security technique for links is the use of high- power RF uplinks: that
is, a large antenna used to send a high- power signal from the ground
station to the satellite. To intentionally interfere with a satellite*s
links, an attacker would need a large antenna with a powerful radio
transmitter (as well as considerable technical knowledge). Two of the
commercial providers we talked to stated that they use high- power RF
uplinks as part of their satellite security approach. According to one
commercial provider,

most satellite operators use high- power RF uplinks for TT& C connections
to block potential unauthorized users* attempts to interfere with or jam
the TT& C uplink. A third technique for protecting links is the use of
spread spectrum communication, a technique used by the military and not
normally implemented by commercial providers. Spread spectrum
communication is a form of wireless communication in which the frequency
of the

transmitted signal is deliberately varied and spread over a wide frequency
band. Because the frequency of the transmitted signal is deliberately
varied, spread spectrum communication can provide security to links
because it increases the power required to jam the signals even if they
are detected. Spread spectrum communication is primarily used to optimize
the efficiency of bandwidth within a frequency range, but it also provides
security benefits. 21

Finally, TT& C links can be protected by the use of a unique digital
interface between the ground station and the satellite. According to one
commercial 21 Two desired outcomes of using spread spectrum communications
as a security technique are low probability of intercept and low
probability of detection, which increase the difficulty of detecting and
jamming signals. These outcomes, although not mentioned by entities in our
review, require that the transmission occur in quick, random bursts to
make it harder to detect, and that the signal is narrowed to make it
harder to intercept. In contrast,

most commercial satellites have a wide beam and continuous coverage, so
that as many customers as possible can be covered by a limited number of
satellites, thus driving up return on investment.

satellite service provider, most commercial providers use a unique digital
interface with each satellite. Tracking and control instructions sent from
the ground station to the satellite are encoded and formatted in a way
that is not publicly known. Officials from the commercial satellite vendor
stated that even if an attacker were successful in hacking one satellite,
the unique interface could prevent the attacker from taking control of an
entire fleet of satellites. In addition, communication with the digital
interface to the tracking and control links requires high transmission
power, so that an

attacker would need a large, powerful antenna. Satellites Can Be Protected
Satellites can be protected by (1) *hardening,* through designs and
through Hardening and

components that are built to be robust enough to withstand harsh space
Redundancy

environments and deliberate attacks, and (2) the use of redundancy* backup
systems and components. Commercial satellite service providers and federal
civilian owners and operators told us that they do not harden their
satellites to the extent that the military does. Commercial providers,
federal civilian owners and operators, and the military use varying
degrees of redundancy to protect their satellites.

As satellites rely increasingly on on- board information processing,
hardening is becoming more important as a security technique. Hardening in
this context includes physical hardening and electronic- component
hardening. Satellites can be hardened against natural environmental
conditions and deliberate attack, and to ensure survivability. 22 Most
hardening efforts are focused on providing sufficient protection to
electronic components in satellites so that they can withstand natural
environmental conditions over the expected lifespan of the satellite,
which

could be nearly 15 years. For hardening against deliberate attacks, some
techniques proposed include the use of reflective surfaces, shutters, and
nonabsorbing materials. According to commercial satellite providers,
commercial satellites are not normally hardened against non- natural
nuclear radiation because it is too costly. The drawback of hardening is
the

cost and the manufacturing and operational burdens that it imposes on
satellite manufacturers and providers.

22 Survivability is the property of a system, subsystem, equipment,
process, or procedure that provides a defined degree of assurance that the
named entity will continue to function during and after a natural or man-
made disturbance, as for example a nuclear burst.

The use of high- quality space parts is another approach to hardening.
Although all parts used in satellites are designed to withstand natural
environmental conditions, some very high- quality parts that have
undergone rigorous testing and have appreciably higher hardness than
standard space parts are also available, including those referred to as
class

*S* parts. These higher quality space parts cost significantly more than
regular space parts* partly because of the significant testing procedures
and more limited number of commercial providers manufacturing hardened
parts. According to an industry official, high- quality space parts are
used by the military and are generally not used on commercial satellites.
Commercial satellite providers stated that they also use redundancy to

ensure availability, through backup satellites and redundant features on
individual satellites. Backup satellites enable an organization to
continue operations if a primary satellite fails. One provider stated that
it would rather spend resources on backup satellites than on hardening
future satellites or encrypting the TT& C and data links. The provider
also expressed the view that a greater number of smaller, less costly
satellites provides greater reliability than is provided by few large
satellites, because there is more redundancy. According to an industry
consulting group,

backup satellites, which include in- orbit and on- ground satellites, are
part of commercial satellite providers* security approaches. When backup
satellites are used, they are commonly kept in orbit; keeping backup
satellites on the ground is possible, but it has the disadvantage that the
system cannot immediately continue operations if the primary satellite
fails. According to one provider, it could take 4 to 6 months to launch a
backup satellite stored on the ground.

In addition, individual satellites can be designed to have redundant
parts. For example, a commercial satellite provider told us that redundant
processors, antennas, control systems, transponders, and other equipment
are frequently used to ensure satellite survivability. Another example is
that satellites could have two completely separate sets of hardware and
two paths for software and information; this is referred to as having an
A- side and a B- side. In general, this technique is not used on
commercial satellites,

according to an industry official.

Ground Stations Can Be Techniques to protect ground stations include
physical controls as well as Protected Primarily by

logical security controls, hardening, and backup ground stations. Ground
Physical Security Controls stations are important because they control the
satellite and receive and

process data. One provider stated that providing physical security
measures to ground stations is important because the greatest security
threat to satellite systems exists at that location. Locations of ground
stations are usually known and accessible; thus, they require physical
security controls such as fencing, guards, and internal security. One
provider emphasized the importance of performing background checks on
employees. Civilian agencies also stated that they protected ground
stations through various physical security controls: ground stations are
fenced, guarded, and secured inside with access control devices, such as
key cards.

The commercial satellite service providers included in our review stated
that they did not protect their ground stations through hardening; this
technique is primarily used by the military. 23 Similarly, most civilian

agencies we talked to do not harden their ground stations. A ground
station would be considered hardened if it had protective measures to
enable it to withstand destructive forces such as explosions, natural
disasters, or

ionizing radiation. Commercial satellite providers and federal agency
satellite owners and operators also may maintain off- line or fully
redundant ground stations to ensure availability, which can be used if the
primary ground station is disrupted or destroyed. Off- line backup ground
stations may not be staffed or managed by the same company, or on a full-
time basis. In addition, offline backup ground stations are not
necessarily designed for long- term control of satellites. On the other
hand, one commercial service provider stated that it maintained fully
redundant, co- primary, geographically separated ground stations that are
fully staffed with trained operators,

gated with restricted access, and capable of long- term uninterruptible
power. In addition, these ground stations periodically alternated which
satellites they were responsible for as a training exercise. They also
operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and monitored each other. 23
Hardening of ground stations includes robust physical security features
like blast resistant physical structures and radomes to protect antennas.

Federal Satellite Users To mitigate the risk associated with using
commercial satellites, federal

Can Reduce Risks Only agencies focus on areas within their responsibility
and control: data links and communication ground stations. According to
federal agency officials, in Certain Areas, and

agencies reduce risks associated with using commercial satellites by (1)
National Policy Is protecting the data*s authentication and
confidentiality with encryption, (2)

Limited securing the data ground stations with physical security controls
and

backup sites, and (3) ensuring service availability through redundancy and
dedicated services. Federal agencies rely on commercial satellite service
providers to provide the security techniques for the TT& C links,
satellites, and satellite control stations. However, federal agency
officials stated that they were unable to impose specific security
requirements on commercial satellite service providers. Further, federal
policy governing the security of

satellite systems used by agencies is limited because it addresses only
those satellites used for national security information, pertains only to
techniques associated with the links between ground stations and
satellites and between satellites (cross- links), and does not have an
enforcement mechanism. Without appropriate governmentwide policy to
address the security of all satellite components and of non* national-
security information, federal agencies may not, for information with
similar

sensitivity and criticality, consistently (1) secure data links and
communication ground stations or (2) use satellites that have certain
security controls that enhance availability. Recent initiatives by the
Executive Branch have acknowledged these policy limitations, but we are
not aware of specific actions to address them.

Agencies Provide For critical data, agencies primarily use different types
of encryption to Encryption to Protect Data

reduce the risk of unauthorized use or changes. For example, the military
services use encryption to protect most data communicated over satellites*
either commercially owned or military. DOD officials stated that the
military services use the strongest encryption algorithms available from
the NSA for the most sensitive information* national security information.
For non* national- security information, the military services use less
strong encryption algorithms, according to DOD officials. The National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also uses NSA- provided
encryption for critical operations, such as human mission communications
(that is, for space shuttle missions). Using NSA encryption requires
encryption and decryption hardware at the data*s source and destination,

respectively. The use of this hardware requires agencies and satellite
service providers to apply special physical protection procedures* such as
restricting access to the equipment and allowing no access by foreign

nationals. For the next generation of government- owned weather
satellites, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and
the U. S. military plan to use an NSA- approved commercial encryption
package that will avoid the need for special equipment and allow them to
restrict the data to authorized users with user IDs and passwords. In
addition, NOAA will be able to encrypt broadcast weather data over
particular regions of the world. According to NASA and NOAA officials,
some agency data do not require

protection because the risk of unauthorized use or changes is not
significant or because the information is intended to be available to a
broad audience. For example, NASA uses satellites to provide large
bandwidth to transmit scientific data from remote locations. According to
NASA officials, the agency does not protect the transmission of these data
because they are considered academic in nature and low risk. In addition,

the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not encrypt links between
control centers or between control centers and aircraft, because the data
on these links go from specific air traffic control centers to specific
aircraft. According to FAA officials, if the transmissions were required
to

be encrypted, every aircraft would have to acquire costly decryption
equipment. Further, according to National Weather Service officials, the
service does not protect the weather data transmitted over commercial
satellites because the service considers it important to make this
information widely available not only to its sites but also to government

agencies, commercial partners, universities, and others with the
appropriate equipment. Agencies Provide Physical Federal agencies also
control the security of the data ground stations that

Security for send and receive data over satellites. To protect these
ground stations,

Communications Ground federal officials stated that they use physical
security techniques, such as Stations

those discussed earlier. They protect their facilities and equipment from
unintentional and intentional threats (such as wind, snow, and vandalism).
For example, according to FAA officials, in certain locations, FAA has
hardened remote satellite ground stations against high wind and cold
weather conditions. In addition, NOAA officials stated that many of their

antennas are hurricane protected. Further, federal officials stated that
they perform background checks on personnel. NOAA officials stated that
they perform background checks on satellite technicians to the secret
clearance level. Federal officials also stated that their ground stations
are further protected because they are located on large, protected federal
facilities. For example, military ground stations can be located on
protected U. S. or

allied military bases. Also, National Weather Service officials stated
that the service*s primary communications uplink is located on a highly
secured federal site. Further, according to DOD officials, personnel are
expected to protect the satellite equipment provided to them in the field.
Agencies also

had backup communications sites that were geographically separated,
including being on different power grids. For example, according to an
official, the National Weather Service*s planned backup communications
uplink site will be geographically separated from the primary site and
will be on a secured federal site.

Agencies Attempt to Ensure Federal agencies also reduce the risk
associated with using commercial Availability through

satellites by having redundant telecommunications capabilities. For
Redundancy and Dedicated

example, for the program that provides Alaska*s air traffic control, FAA
Services relies on two satellites to provide backup capacity for each
other. In

addition to this redundancy, FAA has requested its commercial satellite
service provider to preferentially provide services to FAA*s Alaska air
traffic control system over other customers carried on the same
satellites. Another FAA program provides primary communications
capabilities in remote locations and has redundant satellite capacity that
can be used if the primary satellite fails. The National Weather Service
is another

example. The service uses redundancy to ensure the availability of
satellite services that broadcast weather data to its 160 locations by
contracting for priority services that include guarantees of additional
transponders or, if the satellite fails, of services on other satellites.
In addition, the service

plans to own and operate a backup communications center that is
geographically separated from the primary site. The service performs
monthly tests of the backup site*s ability to provide the communications
uplink to the commercial satellites.

Agencies Do Not Control All Federal agencies rely on the commercial
satellite service provider*s

Aspects of Security and security techniques for the TT& C links,
satellites, and satellite control Have Limited Ability to

ground stations. Figure 3 graphically depicts the areas not controlled by
Influence Availability and

federal agencies. Security Requirements

Figure 3: Commercial Satellite System Showing Components Not Controlled by
Government Agencies

Source: GAO analysis.

To mitigate the risk associated with not controlling aspects of commercial
satellite security other than protecting the data links and communications
ground stations, federal agencies attempt to specify availability 24 and
reliability 25 requirements, but they acknowledge having had limited
influence over security techniques employed by commercial satellite
service providers. 26 Federal officials stated that they are usually

constrained by the availability and reliability levels that can be
provided by their telecommunications service providers. For example, for
one program, an FAA contract requires 99.7 percent availability in
recognition of the satellite service provider*s limitations, though the
agency typically receives 99. 8 percent. However, FAA would prefer 99.999
percent availability on this program*s satellite communications, which is
similar to the reliability level being received from terrestrial networks
that FAA uses where available. According to one FAA official, greater
satellite reliability could be gained by having multiple satellite service
providers furnish communications over the same regions, but this approach
is too costly. Although maintaining established or contracted reliability
levels generally

requires that service providers maintain some level of security, federal
officials stated that their agencies cannot usually require commercial
satellite service providers to use specific security techniques.
Commercial satellite service providers have established operational
procedures, including security techniques, some of which, according to
officials, cannot be easily changed. For example, once a satellite is
launched, additional hardening or encryption of the TT& C link is
difficult, if not impossible.

Some service providers offer the capability to encrypt the command
uplinks. According to FAA officials, FAA is in the process of performing
risk assessments, in compliance with its own information systems security
policies, on the commercial services (including satellite services) that
it acquires. Based on these risk assessments, FAA officials plan to
accredit 24 Availability is the ratio of the total time a service is being
used during a given interval to the

length of the interval. For example, a service provider may state that its
services will be available 99. 99 percent over a year, which amounts to 53
minutes of accumulated outages for all causes over the course of the year.
Additional decimal places, such as 99. 999 percent, represent greater
levels of availability. Federal Telecommunications Standards Committee,
Telecom Glossary 2000 (Feb. 2, 2001).

25 Reliability is the probability that a service will perform its required
function for a specified period of time under stated conditions. Federal
Telecommunications Standards Committee, Telecom Glossary 2000 (Feb. 2,
2001). 26 Security is one of many factors that affect satellite
availability and reliability. Others include weather and power outages.

and certify the security of the agency*s program that relies on commercial
satellites.

Existing Federal Policy Federal policy governing agencies* actions
regarding the security of Concerning Commercial commercial satellite
systems is limited, in that it (1) pertains only to Satellite Security Is
Limited satellites used for national security purposes, (2) addresses
security techniques associated with links only, and (3) does not have an
enforcement mechanism for ensuring compliance. Although the Executive
Branch has recently acknowledged these policy limitations, we are not
aware of specific actions to address them.

NSTISSP No. 12, the current policy governing satellite system security,
applies only to U. S. space systems (U. S. government- owned or
commercially owned and operated space systems) that are used for national
security information and to imagery satellites that are or could be used
for national security purposes during periods of conflict or war. It does
not apply to systems that process sensitive, non* national- security
information. Issued by the National Security Telecommunications and

Information Systems Security Committee (now the Committee on National
Security Systems (CNSS)), NSTISSP No. 12 has as its primary objective *to

ensure that information assurance is factored into the planning, design,
launch, sustained operation, and deactivation of U. S. space systems used
to collect, generate, process, store, display, or transmit/ receive
national security information, as well as any supporting or related
national security systems.* NSTISSP No. 12 also suggests that federal
agencies may want to consider applying the policy*s information assurance
requirements to those

space systems that are essential to the conduct of agencies* unclassified
missions, or to the operation and maintenance of critical infrastructures.

In addition to having a focus only on national security, the policy is
further limited in that it addresses security techniques only for the
links. It does not include physical security requirements for the
satellites or ground stations. Specifically, for satellite systems to
which it applies, NSTISSP No. 12 states that approved U. S. cryptographies
shall be used to provide confidentiality for the (1) command and control
uplinks, (2) data links that transmit national security information
between the ground and the space platforms, (3) cross- links between space
platforms, and (4) downlinks from

space platforms to mission ground or processing centers. Also, there is no
enforcement mechanism to ensure agency compliance with the policy.
According to one NSA official on the CNSS support staff,

enforcement of such policies has always been a problem, because no one has
the authority to force agencies* compliance with them. According to some
agency officials, agencies typically do not test their service providers*
implementation of security procedures.

According to the federal and commercial officials involved in our study,
no commercial satellite is currently fully compliant with NSTISSP No. 12,
and gaining support to build compliant systems would be difficult.
According to commercial satellite industry officials, there is no business
case for

voluntarily following the NSTISSP No. 12 requirements and implementing
them in the satellites and ground stations, including networks that are
currently being developed.

Commercial satellite service providers also raised concerns about the
impact of NSTISSP No. 12 on their future commercial satellite systems.
Several officials stated that if compliance were required, it would
significantly increase the complexity of managing the satellites, because
encryption key management is cumbersome, 27 and appropriately controlling
access to the hardware is difficult in global companies that have many
foreign nationals. Also, commercial satellite service providers stated
that encrypting the TT& C links could increase the difficulty of
troubleshooting, for example, because the time it takes to encrypt and
then decrypt a command could become significant when a TT& C problem
arises. Other issues raised that make NSTISSP No. 12 difficult to
implement

include the following:

 Some satellite service providers view compliance with it as not
necessary for selling services to the government, since in the past
agencies have used satellites that did not comply with prior security
policy. For example, DOD has contracted for services on satellites that
were not compliant with the previous and existing policy for various
reasons. However, at times, noncompliant satellites have been DOD*s only
option.

 Commercial clients will likely be unwilling to pay the additional cost
associated with higher levels of encryption. Significant costs would
include licensing agreements and redesigning hardware for new encryption
technologies.

27 A key is a special value associated with an encryption algorithm that
is used for coding and decoding.

 Satellite industry officials stated that their experience shows that
encryption does not really provide much greater security than other
techniques that protect TT& C and data links. Notwithstanding the above
issues, in response to the policy*s limitations, DOD officials from the
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control,
Communications, and Intelligence stated that the department had started
drafting a policy that would require all commercial satellite systems used
by DOD to meet NSTISSP No. 12 requirements. This

draft policy includes a waiver process requiring prior approval before any
satellite system could be used that did not meet the security
requirements. If approved, this policy would apply only to DOD. DOD
officials are

anticipating that this policy will be approved by the end of 2002. In
addition to DOD*s efforts, a CNSS official stated that a draft policy was
developed to address the lack of national policy or guidance for the
assurance of non* national- security information. Although this policy was
broad in scope, covering many aspects of information assurance, this
official stated that satellite security could be included in its scope.

However, this official also stated that the CNSS*s efforts ended in April
2002 when it sent the draft policy to the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) for consideration, because the CNSS lacks
authority in the area of non* national- security information. In
transmitting the draft policy to the Director, OMB, the CNSS Chair
encouraged the development

of this policy as a first step in establishing a national policy
addressing the protection of information technology systems that process
sensitive homeland security information, as well as information associated
with the operation of critical infrastructures. According to an OMB
official, the draft policy is valuable input for future policy decisions
related to protecting government information.

Recognizing that space activities are indispensable to our national
security and economic vitality, on May 8, 2002, the President*s National
Security Advisor sent a memorandum to top cabinet officials stating that
she plans

to recommend that the White House initiate a review of U. S. space
policies that have been in place since 1996. To date, we are not aware of
specific actions taken in response to the draft policy sent to OMB and the
National Security Advisor*s memorandum.

Without appropriate governmentwide policy to address the security of all
satellite components and of non* national- security information, federal
agencies may not, for information with similar sensitivity and
criticality,

consistently (1) secure data links and communication ground stations or
(2) use satellites that have certain security controls that enhance
availability. As a result, federal agencies risk losing needed
capabilities in the event of the exploitation of satellite system
vulnerabilities. National CIP Initiatives

PDD 63 was issued to improve the federal approach to protecting our
Addressing Satellite

nation*s critical infrastructures by establishing partnerships between
private- sector entities and the federal government. Although this
directive Security Have Been

addressed the satellite vulnerabilities of GPS and led to a detailed
Limited

vulnerability assessment, the satellite industry has not received focused
attention as part of this national effort. Given the importance of
commercial satellites to our nation*s economy, the federal government*s
growing reliance on them, and the dependency of many other infrastructures
on satellites, not including them in our national CIP

approach creates the risk that these critical components of our
information and communication infrastructure may not receive needed
attention.

Both PDD 63 and the report of the President*s Commission on Critical
Infrastructure Protection (October 1997) addressed satellite
vulnerabilities of the GPS and made several recommendations to the
Secretary of Transportation, including to fully evaluate these
vulnerabilities and actual and potential sources of interference to the
system. In August 2001, the

John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center issued a report that includes
an assessment of the vulnerabilities of the GPS; analysis of civilian
aviation, maritime, and surface uses; assessment of the ways that users
may be affected by short- or long- term GPS outages; and recommendations
to minimize the safety and operational impacts of such outages. 28 One
overarching finding was that because of the increasing reliance of
transportation on GPS, the consequences of loss of the signal could be

severe in terms of safety and of environmental and economic damage to the
nation.

Despite the focused attention on GPS, other aspects of the satellite
industry have not received national attention. In PDD 63, commercial
satellites were not identified as a critical infrastructure (or as part of
one), and thus are not specifically included as part of our nation*s
approach to

28 John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Vulnerability
Assessment of the Transportation Infrastructure Relying on the Global
Positioning System: Final Report (Aug. 29, 2001).

protecting critical infrastructures. Further, PDD 63 does not explicitly
include the commercial satellite industry as part of the information and
communications infrastructure sector, nor does the newly issued national

strategy for homeland security. Although there have been discussions about
expanding the coverage of individual sectors (particularly since the
events of September 11, 2001), National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) officials stated that there are no specific plans to
build better partnerships with satellite builders and operators as part of
their efforts. CIAO officials also told us that there are no specific
plans to include commercial satellite companies in current national
efforts. However, CIAO added that some of the current

infrastructure sectors may address satellites in their plans for industry
vulnerability assessments and remediation, since some of these
infrastructures rely on satellites for communications or other functions,
such as tracking shipments or trucks, or monitoring the condition of
equipment. The telecommunications ISAC reiterated NTIA*s and CIAO*s

comments that there are no specific plans to include satellites in
national CIP efforts. The ISAC for the telecommunications sector,
recognized by the President*s National Security Council in January 2000,
is the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications (NCC), which is
operated by the National Communications System. As such, NCC is
responsible for facilitating the exchange of information among government
and industry participants regarding computer- based vulnerability, threat,
and intrusion information affecting the telecommunications infrastructure.
Also, the center analyzes data received from telecommunications industry
members, government, and other sources to avoid or lessen the impact of a
crisis affecting the telecommunications infrastructure. Since its
recognition as an

ISAC, NCC membership has expanded beyond traditional telecommunications
entities to include some aerospace companies such as Boeing and Raytheon,
but the ISAC does not specifically focus on

commercial satellites.

Officials from one of the satellite service providers told us that they
would endorse an ISAC- like forum to discuss vulnerabilities to commercial
and military satellites. In July 2002, we recommended that when developing
the strategy to guide federal CIP efforts, the Assistant to the President
for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Homeland
Security, and the Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security

ensure, among other things, that the strategy includes all relevant
sectors and defines the key federal agencies* roles and responsibilities
associated with each of these sectors. 29 Given the importance of
satellites to the national economy, the federal government*s growing
reliance on them, and the many threats that face them, failure to
explicitly include satellites in the national approach to CIP leaves a
critical aspect of the national infrastructure without focused attention.

Conclusions Commercial satellite service providers use a combination of
techniques to protect their systems from unauthorized use and disruption,
including hardware on satellites, physical and logical controls at ground
stations, and encryption of the links. Although this level of protection
may be adequate for many government requirements, commercial satellite
systems lack the security features used in national security satellites
for protection against deliberate disruption and exploitation.

Federal agencies reduce the risk associated with their use of commercial
satellites by controlling the satellite components within their
responsibility* primarily the data links and communication ground
stations. But the satellite service provider is typically responsible for
most components* the satellite, TT& C links, and the satellite control
ground

stations. Because federal agencies rely on commercial satellite service
providers for most security features, they also reduce their risk by
having redundant capabilities in place. However, national satellite
protection policy is limited because it pertains only to satellite systems
that are used for national security information, addresses only techniques
associated with the links, and does not have an enforcement mechanism.
Recent initiatives by the Executive Branch have acknowledged these policy

limitations, but we are not aware of specific actions taken to address
them. 29 U. S. General Accounting Office, Critical Infrastructure
Protection: Federal Efforts Require a More Coordinated and Comprehensive
Approach to Address Information Attacks, GAO- 02- 474 (Washington, D. C.:
July 15, 2002).

Satellites are not specifically identified as part of our nation*s
critical infrastructure protection approach, which relies heavily on
public- private partnerships to secure our critical infrastructures. As a
result, a national forum to gather and share information about
industrywide vulnerabilities of the satellite industry does not exist,
leaving a national critical infrastructure without focused attention.

Recommendations We recommend that in pursuing the draft policy submitted
to OMB for completion and the recommended review of U. S. space policies,
the Director of OMB and the Assistant to the President for National
Security Affairs review the scope and enforcement of existing security-
related space policy and promote the appropriate revisions of existing
policies and the development of new policies to ensure that federal
agencies appropriately address the concerns involved with the use of
commercial satellites, including the sensitivity of information, security
techniques, and enforcement mechanisms.

Considering the importance of satellites to our national economy, the
government*s growing reliance on them, and the threats that face them, we
recommend that the Assistant to the President for National Security
Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, and the
Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security consider
recognizing the satellite industry as either a new infrastructure or part
of an

existing infrastructure. Agency Comments and We received written comments
on a draft of this report from the Deputy Our Evaluation

Assistant Secretary of Defense, Command, Control, Communications,
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (Space and Information
Technology Programs), Department of Defense; the Chief of the Satellite
Communications and Support Division, United States Space Command,
Department of Defense; the Chief Financial Officer/ Chief Administrative
Officer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of
Commerce; and the Associate Deputy Administrator for Institutions,

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Departments of Defense
and Commerce and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
concurred with our findings and recommendations (see apps. II, III, and
IV, respectively) and provided technical comments that have been
incorporated in the report, as appropriate (some of these technical
comments are reproduced in the appendixes).

We also received technical oral comments from officials from the Critical
Infrastructure Assurance Office, Department of Commerce; Federal Aviation
Administration, Department of Transportation; Office of Management and
Budget; and United States Secret Service, Department of Treasury; in
addition, we received written and oral technical comments from five
participating private- sector entities. Comments from all these

organizations have been incorporated into the report, as appropriate. We
did not receive comments from the Special Advisor to the President for
Cyberspace Security. As we agreed with your staff, unless you publicly
announce the contents of this report earlier, we plan no further
distribution of it until 30 days from the date of this letter. At that
time, we will send copies of this report to other interested congressional
committees and the heads of the agencies discussed in this report, as well
as the private- sector participants. The report will also be available on
GAO*s website at www. gao. gov.

If you have any questions about matters discussed in this report, please
contact me at (202) 512- 3317 or contact Dave Powner, Assistant Director,
at (303) 572- 7316. We can also be reached by E- mail at [email protected] gao. gov
and [email protected] gao. gov, respectively. Contributors to this report include
Barbara Collier, Michael Gilmore, Rahul Gupta, Kevin Secrest, Karl
Seifert, Hai Tran, and Jim Weidner.

Sincerely yours, Robert F. Dacey Director, Information Security Issues

Appendi Appendi xes x I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology Our objectives were to determine (1)
what security techniques are available to protect satellite systems from
unauthorized use, disruption, or damage; (2) how federal agencies reduce
the risks associated with their use of commercial satellite systems; and
(3) what federal critical infrastructure protection efforts are being
undertaken to address satellite system security through improved
government/ private- sector cooperation. To accomplish

these objectives, we reviewed technical documents, policy documents, and
directives, and we interviewed pertinent officials from federal agencies
and the private sector involved in manufacturing and operating satellites
and providing satellite services. To determine what security techniques
are available to protect satellite systems from unauthorized use,
disruption, or damage, we reviewed technical documents and policy, such as
NSTISSP No. 12 and various other sources, and we interviewed pertinent
federal officials from the Department of Defense (DOD); the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA);

the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including the
Goddard and Marshall Space Flight Centers; the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the National Security Agency (NSA); and
the Department of Treasury*s United States Secret Service. The DOD
organizations whose documentation we reviewed and whose officials we
interviewed included the Air Force; the Army; the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence; the

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station; the Defense Information Systems
Agency; the National Security Space Architect; the Navy; and the U. S.
Space Command. In addition, we reviewed documentation and interviewed
officials from private- sector organizations that manufacture and operate
satellite systems, including Intelsat, Lockheed Martin, Loral Space &
Communications, Ltd. (Loral Skynet and Loral Space Systems groups),
Northrop Grumman TASC, the Satellite Industry Association, and W. L.
Pritchard & Co., L. C. We identified these organizations through relevant
literature searches, discussions with organizations, and discussions with
GAO personnel familiar with the satellite industry. We did not develop an
all- inclusive list of security techniques, but we attempted to establish
the

most commonly used of the security techniques available. To determine how
federal agencies reduce the risks associated with their use of commercial
satellite systems, we identified and reviewed relevant federal policy,
including National Security Telecommunications and

Information Systems Security Committee policies and applicable federal
agency policies, such as the FAA*s Information Systems Security Program
Handbook. We also reviewed documentation and interviewed federal

officials from DOD, FAA, NASA, NSA, and NOAA. In addition, in meetings
with commercial service providers holding government contracts, we
discussed any special requirements placed on commercial service providers
by federal agencies.

To determine what federal critical infrastructure protection (CIP) efforts
were being undertaken to address satellite system security, we reviewed
various orders, directives, and policies, such as Executive Order 13231
and PDD 63. In addition, we interviewed pertinent federal officials from
the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, National Communications
System/ National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications, and

National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Further, in
interviews with commercial service providers, we discussed their
involvement in national CIP- related activities. We performed our work in
Washington, D. C.; Bedminster, New Jersey; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and
Palo Alto, California, from December 2001 through June 2002, in accordance
with generally accepted government

auditing standards. We did not evaluate the effectiveness of security
techniques being used by federal agencies and the private sector, or of
the techniques used by federal agencies to reduce the risks associated
with their use of commercial satellite systems.

Appendi x II Comments from the Department of Defense

Comments from the Department of

Appendi x II I Commerce

Now on p. 6. Now on p. 26. Now on p. 27.

Comments from the National Aeronautics and

Appendi x V I Space Administration (310142)

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a

GAO United States General Accounting Office

LIM

Why GAO Did This Study

Because the federal government relies on commercial satellites, security
threats leading to their disruption or loss would put government functions
(including communications and information transmission) at significant
risk. Accordingly, GAO was asked to review, among other things, the
techniques used by federal agencies to reduce the risk associated with
using commercial satellite systems, as well as efforts to improve
satellite system security undertaken as part of federal efforts in
critical infrastructure protection.

August 2002 CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION Commercial Satellite
Security Should Be More Fully Addressed

This is a test for developing highlights for a GAO report. The full
report, including GAO*s objectives, scope, methodology, and analysis is
available at www. gao. gov/ cgi- bin/ getrpt? GAO- 02- 781. For additional
information about the report, contact Robert Dacey (202- 512- 3317). To
provide comments on this test highlights, contact Keith Fultz (202- 512-
3200) or E- mail [email protected] gao. gov.

Highlights of GAO- 02- 781, a report to the Ranking Minority Member,
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Governmental
Affairs, United States Senate.

What GAO Recommends

To ensure that these assets are protected from unauthorized access and
disruption, GAO recommends that steps be taken to promote the appropriate
development and implementation of policy regarding the security of
satellite systems. GAO also recommends that commercial satellites be
identified as a critical infrastructure (or as part of an already
identified one) in the national critical infrastructure protection
strategy.

In commenting on a draft of this report, agencies included in our review
concurred with our findings and recommendations. In addition, these
agencies and private- sector entities provided technical comments, which
were included in the report, as appropriate.

United States General Accounting Office

What GAO Found

Although federal agencies rely on commercial satellites, federal customers
do not dominate the commercial satellite market, accounting for only about
10 percent of it. As a result, federal customers generally have not
influenced security techniques used for commercial satellites. Federal
agencies do reduce their risk by securing those system components under
their control* the data links and communications ground stations* but most
components are typically the responsibility of the satellite service
provider: the satellite; the telemetry, tracking, and control links; and
the satellite control ground stations (see figure below). Some federal
agencies also mitigate risk by relying on redundant or backup
capabilities, such as additional satellite services.

In 1998, Presidential Decision Directive 63 was issued to improve the
federal approach to protecting our nation*s critical infrastructures (such
as telecommunications, energy, banking and finance, and transportation) by
establishing partnerships between private- sector entities and the federal
government. To date, the satellite industry has not been included as part
of this national effort. Further, federal policy governing the security of
satellite systems used by agencies addresses only those satellites used
for national security information and pertains only to techniques
associated with the links between ground stations and satellites or links
between satellites. Without appropriate governmentwide policy to address
the security of all satellite components and of non* national- security
information, federal agencies may not, for information with similar
sensitivity and criticality, consistently (1) secure data links and
communication ground stations or (2) use satellites that have certain
security controls that enhance availability.

Commercial Satellite System Showing Components Not Controlled by
Government Agencies

Source: GAO analysis. G A O Accountability Integrity Reliability

Highlights

Page i GAO- 02- 781 Commercial Satellite Security

Contents

Contents

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Appendix I

Appendix I Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

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Appendix II

Appendix II Comments from the Department of Defense

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Appendix III

Appendix III Comments from the Department of Commerce

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Appendix III Comments from the Department of Commerce

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Appendix IV

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