Is Dish Network an Enterprise Security Threat?

In early January, Dish Networks Chairman Charles Ergen met with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and other agency officials. According to Bloomberg News, Ergen was looking to buy the assets of DBSD North America Inc. and TerreStar Networks Inc. At issue are waivers, which AT&T and Verizon allege would change existing restrictions on airwave use.

There is also a potential security concern as well. If Dish Network gets FCC approval, it will acquire more satellite bandwidth to provide inexpensive data transmission to its customers. The caveat, according to Dan Neel of Endpoint Security is that a majority of that new communication space will be unencrypted. Neel states that Dish Network, like many consumer Internet providers, will simply leave the security of the signal to the end-user. And having your work-at-home employees use inexpensive consumer Internet services exposes your enterprise to potentially serious security issues.

Neel is of course exposing a much larger problem: that satellite communications in general are somehow outside the reach of common criminals and satellite signals therefore don't need to be encrypted or otherwise secured. That is false. Already in Afghanistan, military drone satellite communications have been hacked using a $22 Russian SkyGrabber software program.

Whatever the FCC decides regarding Dish Networks and other satellite operators, the time is now for securing satellite communications.