• Richard Blech

Battlefield Communication Security Enables the Mission


Technology has always had a role in defining the battlefield. Today’s battlefield environment has a digital ecosystem that is centered on how much data can be moved and how it can be connected. And the one aspect of the ecosystem that is just as important as its data capabilities is how secure it is.


SECURING DIGITAL BATTLEFIELD COMMUNICATIONS

Like all industries, the United States military has been modernizing its communication and network systems in order to remain effective in the digital age. Modernization is essential for improving cyber mobility and unmooring communications in combat zones. In an age in which networks have an essential role in contested environments and are targeted by opponents in the normal course of combat, encrypting the communications that can provide a real-time picture of what occurs and can inform battlefield decisions is critical.

AES has been the standard for information security as determined by the National Institute of Standards since 2001. According to the U.S. government, the encryption used for secret, unclassified information has to be at least 128 bits. For top secret, classified data, AES-256 should be used.

However, decision-makers should employ the highly advanced technology that can help ensure a secure, digitally-encrypted communications network in hostile environments. The encryption and cryptography solutions used should create a framework that can cover all communication channels, including radio, cellular, W-Fi and satellite. These solutions should:

  • Easily integrate into existing networks without degrading network performance

  • Encrypt and decrypt outbound and inbound traffic with insignificant latency

  • Use cryptographic algorithms to generate key material that is shared securely

These features are all inherent aspects of the cybersecurity solutions provided by XSOC CORP.


TACTICAL COMMUNICATIONS IS A CYBER TARGET

Technologies like the interconnected devices of IoT, the cloud and artificial intelligence have resulted in a battlefield that is becoming progressively more dynamic. There are many different points of physical and virtual connections. These connections are being used to not only facilitate battlefield communications, but to also link soldiers directly to command centers and weapon systems. A poorly secured technology is always a liability, and with the larger potential attack surface all of these connection points create, there is a very real danger of internal and external cyberthreats that can result in, at the very least, the interception of battlefield communications.

An important shift in battlefield communication that is contributing to the growing attack surface is the adoption of end-user devices, especially smartphones.


The devices tend to be much faster than tactical radios and can provide more reliable and consistent communications and situational awareness. They can also be used for functions like implementing digitally aided close air support. If cellular connections falter, they can switch to Wi-Fi. If Wi-Fi is unavailable or unreliable, wired connections to mesh networks can be used. The smartphones can be used across all of these channels, and without effective security solutions, can serve as prime points of entry into communication networks. The tactical network themselves can be very vulnerable. In military operations, the networks can be in close proximity to opponents, which can make it even easier for the interception of communications. The networks that are used not only have to support multiple channels that collectively function as a unified communications system, the information that traverses back and forth on those channels between devices and that are stored on those devices have to be secure.

These conditions reinforce the need for having a multi-layered cybersecurity framework that includes data encryption.

XSOC CRYPTOGRAPHY PROTECTS COMMUNICATIONS IN THE COMBAT ZONE

The 512-bit baseline encryption strength of the XSOC Cryptosystem exceeds the standards stipulated by the NIST. The protection that XSOC encryption offers goes even further by being quantum-safe as a result of this longer, but highly efficient key length. This is a critical feature in a data encryption solution, as quantum computers impact on standard encryption systems is evolving and concerning. The attack surface of the XSOC variable length encryption key, unlike that of an AES key, is significantly diminished and can better withstand the current and future capabilities of the state-sponsored attacker.

SOCKET is an XSOC CORP solution that is especially suited for protecting ad-hoc network environments like those needed for battlefield communications. The SOCKET software components can be installed on small-form factor computer hardware to provide the same degree of network encryption deployed on large systems to remote battle environments. Additionally, when smartphones are tethered to tactical radios, SOCKET can be used to create encrypted networks, MESH, air-gapped as well as open, on a targeted basis, impervious to bottlenecks, providing the same level of protection even when Wi-Fi, 4G, 5G or 6G channels are in use.

The need robust data protection is not limited to person-to-person battlefield communication. Drones are being used to help round out battlefield communication networks and provide situational awareness, making the encryption of drone communications a necessity. SOCKET can be used to encrypt the information transmitted between two drones and between a drone and a ground station.


XSOC SOLUTIONS FOR BATTLEFIELD ENVIRONMENTS

The security of battlefield communications is increasingly important as opponents will leverage every opportunity to gain an advantage. Military leaders can use XSOC CORP’s encryption and cryptography solutions to prioritize the personnel on the front line and their missions. Contact us to learn how our team of experts can assist with configuring the cybersecurity and cryptographic solutions for battlefield communication protection that can transform mission operations.