The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released its Public Safety Communications Security white paper today in an effort to explain the importance of Communications Security (COMSEC), basic elements of a COMSEC program, and how to develop an encryption strategy to prevent and mitigate unauthorized access to information.
The white paper focuses on the security of reliable land mobile radio (LMR) communications, with an emphasis on encryption – a critical part of COMSEC.
Encryption allows authorized personnel to scramble a transmission in a way that will only be intelligible to them. However, the white paper warns that Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is the only “truly secure encryption algorithm for LMR systems.”
“Encryption is among COMSEC’s strongest tools, and encryption using the AES algorithm is the only reliable method available to secure public safety wired and wireless communications,” the white paper says.
CISA recommends procurement officials check with vendors to determine if AES is available and how much it would cost. Although the cost for AES can be minimal, investments in encryption services and encryption-capable equipment may add up.
For more information, CISA encourages agency leaders to visit cisa.gov/publication/encryption.