Bringing Secure Mesh Wireless to Mobile Command Posts

Bringing Secure Mesh Wireless to Mobile Command Posts

Published in Military Embedded Systems
Written by Dominic Perez

Military wireless networks in the military can be secured through the proven use of NSA-approved Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) encryption. CSfC is a set of approved architectures using two layers of commercial encryption (as opposed to Type 1 military-only encryption) for access to classified networks. The layers, software and/or hardware, must be developed independently and validated to international Common Criteria standards. Today, it’s possible to rapidly set up a mobile, extendable wireless network qualified to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 9 [denoting that a technology has been “flight proven” during a successful mission]; using Wi-Fi 6, multi-­hundreds of megabits of throughput can be rapidly deployed in the field.

One advantage of wireless networking – beyond the speed of deployment – is that it can deliver true network resiliency. It supports mesh topologies, which can eliminate the threat of a single point of failure in the network, so the loss of a single node or access point won’t bring down the entire network.

A mesh network, which can exist in many different topologies and come in a variety of formats, can route across the network with direct-hop, single-hop, or multiple-hop data distribution to connect any two nodes on the network. For wireless meshing, many in the military think of MANET [mobile ad hoc network] radios. While MANET radios support various meshing topologies, modern implementations of good old 802.11 Wi-Fi do as well. A major advantage of Wi-Fi is its low hardware cost: Even in rugged and outdoor applications Wi-Fi benefits from true commodity pricing. MANET requires each operator to have their own MANET-compatible radio, which is fine for handheld communications. It’s less than ideal, though, for data-based comms that require the user to plug into a laptop or tablet already equipped with Wi-Fi hardware.

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