A group of bipartisan senators has introduced legislation that would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to help commercial satellite companies and owners to better defend themselves against cyberthreats across the globe.

The Satellite Cybersecurity Act was introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, in recognition of the growing need for protection of the satellite sector against cyber threats.

“We’ve already seen the impacts of attacks on satellite systems by our adversaries abroad, and the potential effects on our lives and livelihoods could be catastrophic if American systems were similarly attacked,” said Sen. Peters. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that commercial satellite owners and operators have the tools and resources they need to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses.”

The legislation comes as Russia continues disruption campaigns against Ukraine focused on undermining its infrastructure and communication.

Some of the strategic areas that the legislation focuses on protecting include sensitive data that pertains to critical infrastructure in navigation, agriculture, and technology development, among others.

“Nearly every industry uses commercial satellite networks to provide essential services, but the destruction or disruption of these networks could be used against our national security interests,” said Sen. Cornyn.

The legislation would also direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a series of studies to better understand how the government supports the satellite cybersecurity for the private sector.

The bill also would direct the National Cyber Director (NCD) and the National Space Council (NSC) to create a plan to enhance the coordination across government agencies in a new effort to address cybersecurity threats to private satellite systems.

The measure “will require CISA to consolidate voluntary satellite cybersecurity recommendations – including guidance specifically for small businesses – to help companies understand how to best secure their systems,” Sen. Peters’ office said. “Additionally, the bill requires CISA to develop a publicly available, online resource to ensure companies can easily access satellite-specific cybersecurity resources and recommendations to secure their networks.”

The previous version of the legislation – introduced in the in January 2022 – cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Sen. Peters chairs, but did not get a vote in the full Senate.

The Senate bill does not appear to have a House companion measure.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.