Spotlight on Security Management

Secure radio communications are essential for public safety organizations wanting to improve the safety of their staff and the communities they serve. Crucial and sensitive information is often exchanged across radio communications networks, and if intercepted by third parties this information could compromise the safety of staff as well as the general public. These staff will share high quality information and perform at their best when they are confident that their messages are heard only by the intended recipients.

For these reasons, public safety organizations choose to incorporate encryption into a radio solution, and the introduction of the P25 standard is leading many agencies such as fire and ambulance, as well as police, to consider their options. P25 digital radio is well suited for encryption, provides excellent coverage, and is an open standard delivering multi-vendor interoperability.

Investing in encryption is a long-term commitment however, and purchasing encrypted radios and keying tools is only the start. There are a number of threats to any secure radio communications and in particular, key and radio mismanagement can leave an organization more vulnerable than if they do not have encryption.

Tait has worked closely with customers to develop a wide range of scaleable P25 solutions focussed on their need for easy-to-use, reliable communications. Tait has developed an industry leading encryption management solution based on the requirements and advice of our customers. The solution components comprise a Key Management Facility (KMF), Key Fill Device (KFD), and over the air rekeying (OTAR) supported by Tait P25 networks and terminals.

The Tait KMF is a client-server system that enables organizations to deploy, store and manage numerous P25 encryption keys, and can apply varying security levels across multiple teams with a high degree of flexibility and efficiency. The Tait KMF has been designed with the user in mind and is easy to navigate through its functions and scroll between common key references, groups and devices, and the screen includes a dashboard display to keep up-to-date with the currency of devices, users or groups.

While there are a number of issues to be considered in encryption management, the good news is there are just as many tactics that can be deployed to achieve success. One benefit of the P25 standard is that purchasing radios from one manufacturer does not mean an organization needs to purchase encryption tools from the same vendor or vice versa.

For example, the Tait KMF can be used to rekey radios from any manufacturer that has implemented standards-based OTAR. Encryption managers can check the open standards support and evidence of interoperability of any encryption product being sourced. Interoperability among P25 radio manufacturers is becoming more transparent through the P25 Compliance Assessment Program which tests the performance and interoperability of P25 radios and systems.

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