Military Embedded Systems

Security driving military communications development


January 09, 2017

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Defense electronics suppliers in the military communications market cite cybersecurity, encryption, wireless network security, etc., as critical targets for development funding going forward.

The shift has made security a hot topic for commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) suppliers. “As a hardware supplier to major MILCOM/defense companies we have seen an uptick in the importance of security,” says Jonathan Joiner, Distribution & Marketing Manager, at Wakefield-Vette, in November’s COTS Confidential of the McHale Report titled: “Spectrum management, security, cognitive radio trending in MILCOM market.”

The importance in security has forced the industry to design and test new generations of products, Joiner adds. “While this is being done we are also seeing many companies/customers retrofit hardware application designs in order for mission critical devices to perform in the many unique harsh/ rugged environments.”

With security demands across the board, even software-defined radio (SDR) technology has garnered the attention of the DoD “for cybersecurity and hacking research,” says Manuel Uhm, Director of Marketing, Ettus Research, a National Instruments company and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Wireless Innovation Forum during November’s COTS Confidential.

“With the proliferation of wireless devices, both commercial and military, cyberattacks committed via hacking of wireless devices is a very real threat and more research is needed to mitigate and defend against the risks. As an example, there are public cases where Ettus Research USRPs have been used to hack key fobs and cars to gain unauthorized entry into vehicles, as well as hack a computer with an air gap to derive the password. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to come up with potential hacks with greater far-reaching consequences,” Uhm continues.

Cybersecurity concerns and new arising threats are driving research and developing in the industry. It is also enabling the industry to provide solutions that are outside the traditional box.
“Cybersecurity, and information assurance for military communications continue to be tough challenges. Advanced COTS platforms supported by multi-OS virtualization technologies, and coupled with dynamic software-defined solutions, are now replacing traditional multi-level secure (MLS) and multiple independent levels of security (MILS) running on proprietary platforms with proprietary application separation technologies,” Chip Downing, Senior Director Business Development, Aerospace and Defense at Wind River Systems, explains in the same article.

Downing adds that “these solutions leverage hardware virtualization assist intellectual property (IP) and security IP in silicon – this is impossible to match in performance, capability, and cost with low-volume software and proprietary hardware platforms. And the tighter coupling of advanced server microprocessors, like Intel’s Xeon technology with powerful FPGAs, will drive security, performance, and utility even higher.”

However, this year should reap the benefits of the trending shift in the design process. In fact, 2017 “could well start the era of built-in cyber protection for defense systems. Looking at the number of security cyberthreats, I believe that both tactical DoD systems and back-end IT infrastructure will actually start to build software systems correctly and securely,” says Robert Day, Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Lynx Software Technologies, in December’s COTS Confidential of the McHale Report titled: “Trump election, phased array tech, Intel Xeon, VPX, and ARM v-8A impact 2016 military COTS market.

To read the entire COTS Confidential:

Spectrum management, security, cognitive radio trending in MILCOM market

Trump election, phased array tech, Intel Xeon, VPX, and ARM v-8A impact 2016 military COTS market