Information superiority, like every strategic advantage, has to be defended. That is why it is essential to protect command and control information completely against tapping, particularly in open radio networks. MultiCom Radio Encryption is a system for immunising every radio infrastructure against any type of electronic attack.
by Rudolf Meier, Publicist
Command and control information needs flexible and secure channels, also when radio systems are involved. For a long time, however, information security was not adequately ensured for radio communication in the operational and tactical area. Weak points in security are no longer tenable in our age of total networking: a single one can endanger the entire command and control system, even the defence option in general! With core-to-edge networking, an attacker can open a gateway into hierarchically higher areas of the network - and do so even before an emergency occurs, e.g. already during realistic manoeuvres.
In other words, a military plan for information security must be geared to providing full protection for the entire flow of information over radio channels from the outset. Specifically, the strategic, tactical and operational levels of the communication hierarchy must be included, along with every mode of operation, every frequency range and every application. These requirements also apply in cases where users are supposed to work in a network with other organisations or nations in ways that are technically interoperable.
As always, the decisive security element is the end-to-end encryption of the flow of information. Encryption must be so flexible that it can meet the different needs at all organisational levels. It is also important to keep in mind that radio systems today are nearly always operated as part of a larger ICT infrastructure comprising components from different manufacturers. In addition, other security functions of a physical and logical nature must be reliably guaranteed (e.g. robustness, COMPREM, emergency-clear procedures and others).
The MultiCom Radio Encryption Platform
Radio communication is a special case among modern technologies primarily because it occurs openly, i.e. outsiders can easily eavesdrop on it. There are technical means for effectively handling this problem today but it is mostly a matter of experience and specific expertise. With its decades of experience in radio encryption, Crypto AG can meet the needs of users directly at the practical level. This capability is evident particularly in the MultiCom Radio Encryption platform, to which further components have now been added. The platform can ensure comprehensive information security in radio networks of any size - also as an integral part of C4I systems. It covers strategic as well as tactical/operational profiles (on the front). And cross-network operation is now possible too thanks to its multi- algorithm capability.
This function ensures that the cryptographic security architecture is applied homogeneously everywhere - regardless of where, by what means and with whom the (authorised) communication is occurring. The technical approach of Crypto AG (in general) is moving increasingly in the direction of being able to cover all security needs of command and control organisations with a small number of multifunctional core components. With the MultiCom Radio Encryption system, there are only four core components:
- MultiCom Radio Encryption HC-2650 is the one-for-all encryption platform for stationary and mobile use. It can be connected to all common types of radio (HF, VHF, UHF, SATCOM) and supports all common applications - in particular, of course, voice, VoIP, messaging, military messaging pursuant to STANAG 5066, chat mode and data-link applications. Users can load up to three algorithms. Online/offline management allows several parallel networks to be managed. Of course, HC-2650 is fully ruggedised and immune to electromagnetic interference. It also emits no compromising radiation.
- The MultiCom HC-2605 terminal is a unique communication terminal with integrated encryption for E2E portable and mobile operational profiles. It is designed for use under the toughest conditions and has a keyboard, display, microphone, loudspeaker and its own power supply. In terms of encryption, it is directly compatible with the voice and chat mode of HC-2650.
- MultiCom Messenger is a convenient PC/laptop-based application for messaging and e-mail with its own messenger radio gateway. It operates with the military protocol STANAG 5066, upon which a number of other protocols (e.g. for ARQ and confirmations of receipt) and applications are based. This approach allows voice and document-based communication to be conducted efficiently over the same channels.
- The Security Management Centre SMC 1100 MultiCom Radio enables the cryptographic functions to be managed on the screen efficiently, securely and with quick response times - even in crisis situations. Security managers can securely distribute management commands in online and offline mode. Any organisational forms can be cryptographically depicted hierarchically and/or in an overlapping fashion thanks to the multi-domain capability (i.e. who is able and allowed to conduct encrypted communication with whom). The strong user authorisation is also managed via SMC.
Interface management included
Of course, a typical customer-specific security solution is made up of numerous hardware and software components, individually combinable applications (for various modes of operation) and specific accessory components depending on the use scenario. Customers often already have complex radio communication infrastructures with different generations and types of radios in place. In such cases, Crypto AG provides services to help them to resolve interface and integration problems of all kinds, also in the capacity of system integrator or general contractor.