Biden taps experts in threat intel, networking and satellite cybersecurity for telecom advisory board

The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Council, or NSTAC, is one of the highest profile telecom and cybersecurity advisory bodies in the federal government, providing industry advice to federal agencies on emerging threats related to 5G wireless technology, IT supply chain security, etc. The council’s recommendations are voluntary and non-binding but nevertheless influence White House and executive branch policy, congressional legislation, and private sector-driven initiatives.

The council is typically composed of thirty, and draws membership primarily from the leadership and executive ranks in private industry. Notably, this year, the Biden administration named Mark David Dankberg, CEO of Viasat, to the board.

Dankberg’s nomination comes following Russia’s destructive cyberattack on Viasat KA-SAT internet service initiated – in February 2022 – one week prior to their invasion of Ukraine. This attack destroyed the satellite modems used by subscribers, including those utilized by the Ukrainian military to offer connectivity for smart weapons systems – but had additional widespread impacts across Europe, even taking German windfarms offline.

Dankberg’s appointment to the NSTAC less than a year after what is widely viewed as one of the most impactful cyber-enabled disruptions of Ukrainian military communications during the war indicates awareness of the vulnerability of US and allied space systems and a renewed interest from the White House in bringing satellite-specific cybersecurity expertise into the NSTAC board.

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