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Communication security and AES-256 Encrypted Radios

Communication security and AES-256 Encrypted Radios

Communications Security (COMSEC) and AES-256 Encrypted Radios

What is COMSEC?

According to a 2018 Air Force memo on the topic


the prevention of unauthorized access to communication’s traffic.  It is imperative to ensure information we transmit, transfer or communicate is secured not only in the military environment, but in aspects of civilian life as well.  One does this by ensuring the two information assurance pillars of confidentiality (ensuring information goes undetected or unseen) and integrity (making sure information is unchanged), are maintained within our various ways of telecommunication. 

COMSEC maintains confidentiality and integrity through the three main disciplines: cryptographic security, physical security and transmission security.  Both physical security and transmission security encompass preventing unauthorized access by means of preventing interruptions or possible harm of a transmission or ensuring the safety while controlling access to cryptographic information, documents and equipment.  Meanwhile, cryptographic security encompasses the physical encryption of data rendering it unreadable without proper decryption.

Cryptographic security and the encryption of information are probably the most recognized disciplines within COMSEC.  Encryption, the process used to change information into an unreadable format, are used in multiple ways.  For example, the military and other government entities use encryption to protect classified information, businesses use encryption to protect trade secrets, while hospitals use encryption to protect patient information.  Encryption can also be used on computer systems to protect files containing personal information such as social security numbers, credit cards, tax information, email and chat histories.  This ensures that even if your laptop or even cell phone is stolen, the data contained is still secure and unreadable by others.

The compromise or mismanagement of COMSEC can negatively impact our lives in many ways by means of identity theft, turning the tides of war or possibly causing unnecessary loss of life.  An examples of this is the German Enigma machine of World War II.  During World War II, a French spy was able to obtain access to German COMSEC encryption material which, in short, was ultimately used to compromise German telecommunications and gain intelligence on their military operations.  The advantage gained from this compromise created an incalculable advantage and largely aided the Allied war effort.  

In today’s day and age majority of our everyday work and personal devices have moved to technology. As warfare shifts to the cyber domain and the increased risk of being hacked on items connected to the internet, COMSEC should be of an utmost importance.  

COMSEC facilitates the security of our personal information, our nation’s infrastructure, the integrity and confidentiality of our telecommunications, and our military operations.

When it comes to securing radio communications the Advanced Encryption Standard or AES encryption protocol is recognized as the gold standard and it is used extensively by governments, militaries, businesses, and individuals around the world to secure sensitive communications. 

AES can employ key lengths of  128, 192, or 256 bits with AES-256 being the most secure. 

AES  256 has a key size of 256 bits. This means that there are 2^256 possible keys. This is an enormous number, and it is estimated that it would take all longer than the age of the universe to crack the encryption using current technology. (For more info about the security of 256 bit encryption watch this video

Our security clients leverage AES 256 encryption not only because it is the most secure encryption standard on the market but also since it’s so widely adopted there are a variety of handheld options that support AES 256.

Rangeland carries a variety of handhelds that support AES-256 encryption.

If you’re interested in learning more about DMR radios and encrypted comms contact us today to see what options are available.

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