Securing Telemetry Data with Commercial Encryption Standards Article from Military Embedded Systems

December 01, 2021

Securing Telemetry Data with Commercial Encryption Standards Article from Military Embedded Systems

Published in Military Embedded Systems

An industry perspective from Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions.

Telemetry data from military flight tests often needs to be secured, not only when at rest, but also while in motion across a network or a telemetry link.

While flight-test vehicles are generally not deployed in adversarial environments, their data can be particularly at risk due to the newness, and therefore the desirability, of the technology. For example, there is a risk of data loss on a hypersonic flight-test vehicle due to the possibility of a test aircraft being captured by other parties, by data being stolen by bad actors, or by data interception on what could be a very long flight path.

In the U.S., classified telemetry has been encrypted data since the late 1970s, due to a mandate that all telemetry data be made secure during transmission. Meanwhile, much of the unclassified data has historically been transmitted unencrypted. The telemetry industry has traditionally relied on the NSA to provide leadership and/or solutions to encrypt telemetry data for streaming (data-in-motion) applications. This system has worked well over the years but it’s not actually practical for data in transit that is not classified, data that is considered private, or programs with short development cycles.

Frequently, system designers are under the impression that NSA Suite A cryptography is their only option for protecting critical telemetry data. While Suite A is necessary for protecting some categories of sensitive information, in many other cases the Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite (CNSA) – a 2018 replacement of NSA Suite B – can be implemented if handled correctly. CNSA is a set of cryptographic algorithms designed to protect U.S. National Security Systems information up to the top-secret level. It offers notable advantages over Suite A, including less-restrictive foreign military sales, the ability to control the encryption keys (Suite A keys are produced and managed by the NSA), and typically faster and less expensive implementation.

Read the full article.

Paul Cook

Paul Cook

Director of Missile Systems, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

Paul Cook is the Director of Missile Systems at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions.  He has 37 years of extensive design and product line experience in Telemetry Systems.  He has held engineering and management positions in design and development, embedded encryption, RF subsystems and data links, engineering and business management, and program management. He has 34 years of experience in the telemetry industry and three years in information assurance Type I CCEP certifications. Paul joined Teletronics in 2007 and, in addition, worked in the telemetry Industry for General Dynamics Corporation, Aydin Corporation, and L-3 Communications Corporation. Paul obtained a BS degree from The College of New Jersey and has various postgraduate courses towards an MBA and program management certifications.

Securing Telemetry Data with Commercial Encryption Standards

This paper describes strategies for encrypting data at rest and in motion, with a particular emphasis on encrypting telemetry data for applications such as flight tests.


MESP-100-2 NIST-Certified Encryption Device Demonstration Video

Paul Cook, Director of Missile Systems, introduces you to the MESP-100-2 NIST-Certified Encryption Device for ARTM telemetry applications. Learn more about the MESP-100-2 and download full details.