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SPECIAL REPORT

SPECIAL REPORT

SPECIAL REPORT

Secure GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications

SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

Secure Contents GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications

SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel The Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF1 Counter Insurgency Campaign in Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan The history of the development of secure GSM technologies

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Secure Contents GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications Foreword

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Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel

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Uses for Secure GSM

The Private Mobile Network Field-Based Deployment

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Secure GSM in the Office The User Interface

Connecting to the Outside World Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Personnel TheMilitary Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

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Counter Insurgency Campaign in Afghanistan

The Role of Secure GSMNetwork Technologies Centric Warfare and tactical communications on the battlefield in Afghanistan and the ISAF Counter Insurgency Campaign What are the known problems with heritage Business Development Director in Afghanistan’ communication systems? Marie-Anne Brooks Publisher Kevin Bell

Editor Martin Richards

7

Foreword

Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan

Communication Challenges of bottleneck The bandwidth Heritage Systems in Afghanistan

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

The History of the Development of Secure GSM Technologies

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The History of the Development Encryption and its implications of secure GSM technologies Secure GSM use in Afghanistan

Production Manager Paul Davies

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Martin Richards, Editor

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel

Secure GSM networks

References

Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

3

Geoff Haworth, Chairman and Founder, Private Mobile Networks Ltd

Uses for Secure GSM

© 2011. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

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Field-Based Deployment

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Published by Global Business Media

Secure GSM in the Office

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The Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF Counter Insurgency Campaign in Afghanistan 7

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The Role of Secure GSMMeredith Technologies Llewellyn, Lead Contributor, Defence Industry Reports Publisher Network Centric Warfare and tactical communications and the ISAF Counter Insurgency Campaign Kevin Bell on the battlefield in Afghanistan Business Development Director in Afghanistan What are the known problems with heritage Marie-Anne Brooks communication systems?

Editor Martin Richards

Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan Communication Challenges of The bandwidth bottleneck Heritage Systems in Afghanistan Advertising Executives Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

The History of the Development of Secure GSM Technologies Development

The History of the Don McBarnet, Staff Writer, Defence Industry Reports of secure GSM technologies For further information visit: Encryption and its implications Production Manager Paul Davies

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The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated.

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Secure GSM use in Afghanistan Secure GSM networks

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Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2011. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Published by Global Business Media

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SPECIAL REPORT

SPECIAL REPORT

SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

Secure GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications

Secure Contents GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel The Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF1 Counter Insurgency Campaign in Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan The history of the development of secure GSM technologies

Sponsored by

Foreword

2

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel

3

Uses for Secure GSM The Private Mobile Network Field-Based Deployment Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media

Secure GSM in the Office

Contents

The User Interface

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Personnel TheMilitary Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

Connecting to the Outside World

Counter Insurgency Campaign in Afghanistan

The Role of Secure GSMNetwork Technologies Centric Warfare and tactical communications on the battlefield in Afghanistan and the ISAF Counter Insurgency Campaign What are the known problems with heritage Business Development Director in Afghanistan’ communication systems? Marie-Anne Brooks

7

Publisher Kevin Bell

Editor Martin Richards

Foreword

Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan

Communication Challenges of bottleneck The bandwidth Heritage Systems in Afghanistan

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

The History of the Development of Secure GSM Technologies

10

The History of the Development Encryption and its implications of secure GSM technologies Secure GSM use in Afghanistan

Production Manager Paul Davies

For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those

Sponsored by of the authors alone and do not necessarily

represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated.

2

Martin Richards, Editor

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel

Secure GSM networks

References

Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

3

Geoff Haworth, Chairman and Founder, Private Mobile Networks Ltd

Uses for Secure GSM

© 2011. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

The Private Mobile Network Published by Global Business Media

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Field-Based Deployment

Published by Global Business Media

Secure GSM in the Office

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

The User Interface

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

The Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF Counter Insurgency Campaign in Afghanistan 7

Publisher Kevin Bell

Network Centric Warfare and tactical communications on the battlefield in Afghanistan

Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Martin Richards Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies

Connecting to the Outside World

Meredith Llewellyn, Lead Contributor, Defence Industry Reports

What are the known problems with heritage communication systems? Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan The bandwidth bottleneck

The History of the Development of Secure GSM Technologies

10

Don McBarnet, Staff Writer, Defence Industry Reports

For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

Encryption and its implications

The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated.

Secure GSM networks

Secure GSM use in Afghanistan

References

12

Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2011. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 1


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

Foreword

T

HIS REPORT is going to review some of the key aspects of secure GSM networks, the current role of tactical communication devices within Network Centric Warfare, the communications doctrine currently in use by ISAF in Afghanistan and the practical issues that need to be “worked around” of heritage communications systems, such as technical limitations presented by terrain and function that make communications on operation between commander and patrol so challenging. The second part of the report will assess emerging GSM technologies and their history with specific reference to security and encryption, which are at the crux of the debate about the role of GSM technologies in Afghanistan. This section will also look at local Afghan civilian and insurgent or Taleban use of secure GSM systems. The third section will deal with industry’s response to the complex needs of Operation Emerging Freedom (OEF) and how new products and technologies are being integrated into ISAF members’ soldier modernisation programmes. New concepts and ideas put forward by leading American military think tanks are also the theme of the final section, with a review of how the latest technologies might be used in the future for battlefield communications in the urban built environment or in rural valleys surrounded by mountains.

Martin Richards Editor

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SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

Secure GSM – A Critical Requirement for Military Personnel Geoff Haworth, Chairman and Founder, Private Mobile Networks Ltd

Being able to make calls on a mobile phone, knowing that they are secure and not at risk of unauthorised intrusion, is a critical requirement for many of today’s business, military, forces, and blue light personnel.

A

SECURE network for mobile phones requires security at all levels. The network itself needs to exist independently of other networks or users to avoid risk of crossover traffic. Only authorised handsets should be able to connect to the GSM network. Transmission security, using encryption algorithms from the handsets, is needed to ensure traffic on the network cannot be accessed by a third party. If the network is to cover multiple sites linked over a wide area then connections need to be over secure satellite or secure point-to-point extensions. Finally, to handle many of today’s highly demanding requirements, the entire solution will often need to be portable and able to be rapidly deployed at any required location. All of these capabilities are supported and already in use as Secure GSM over Private Mobile Network (PMN) deployments within military and blue light applications today.

Uses for Secure GSM A Secure GSM network is used in a wide variety of scenarios, ranging from temporary or permanent office complexes to mobile use by a group of personnel in hostile territory or where there is no connectivity to an alternative network. For example, a convoy of vehicles could use a Secure GSM network, carried with them in the vehicles, to communicate between personnel over the length of the convoy. Encrypted handsets are most likely to be used in scenarios where highly sensitive data is being transmitted between key areas, for example, commander to commander to issue secure instructions between controlling personnel. Another example could relate to a terrorist situation where a GSM encrypted handset could be used to ensure privacy whilst calling government contacts over a Secure GSM network.

The Private Mobile Network With a Private Mobile Network (PMN) a secure private island of communications between authorised and registered mobile phone users is created. Users can be connected to the network within minutes from preconfigured components with the confidence that the network cannot be used by those outside the approved group. The inclusion of encryption capabilities ensures that unauthorised interception will only provide access to encrypted material. The PMN has the means to transmit and receive calls over GSM by utilising a GSM Base Transceiver Station (BTS). This works in conjunction with a Private Mobile eXchange (PMX) software platform that contains the individual software components that would normally make up a macro mobile voice/ SMS network – a Base Station Controller (BSC) and Mobile Switching Centre (MSC), which incorporates an SMS switching centre and supports data networking if required. The architecture behind creating a PMN is based on the replication of a cellular network and cellular exchange in software. A Mobile Switching Centre (MSC) is the core intelligence within the network and is responsible for call routing/switching, both internally on the network and also for outbound communication, together with network and subscriber authorisation and registration. The MSC also coordinates signalling between key components on the GSM network and other externally connected devices. This software based network utilises the latest IP Telephony developments and is combined with the BTS, a pico cell providing low power GSM hardware (base stations) that physically transmit the GSM signal to the handset and a separate software Base Station Controller (BSC) application that controls and coordinates these cells. An option to use private SIMs proivdes the ability to roam

Encrypted handsets are most likely to be used in scenarios where highly sensitive data is being transmitted between key areas, for example, commander to commander to issue secure instructions between controlling personnel.

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SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

To ensure that the network is secure from unwanted parties, only handsets with registered SIMs can utilise network functionality.

between the PMN and operator networks and to fall back capability to the national network if the PMN is powered down for any reason. As private GSM networks tend to be deployed in localised environments, a single BSC is typically required. However, as the size of the cell network increases, there may the need for a number of separate BSC entities to each control a specific cell group. The Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) can be used as a single network or daisy chained to provide increasing levels of call concurrency from 7 to 62 within each single cell. There is no limit to the number of cells able to be deployed supporting installations of all sizes. TeleWare is able to deploy PMN solutions under its low power GSM spectrum licence within the UK solutions or under local low or high power spectrum licences overseas. Changing spectrum frequencies periodically can add an additional level of security to the network.

Field-Based Deployment The PMN solution can be provided as a preconfigured Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) or incorporated into Rapid Deployment Vehicle (RDV) based solutions. This type of solution means a Secure GSM network can be deployed rapidly at remote locations or when contingency communications are required. This is particularly suited to mining, shipping, emergency services and tactical deployment situations. On power-up it takes up to five minutes for the network to be fully operational. The unit is fully preconfigured with the required number of GSM handsets, each with an individual extension number. From a single rugged carry-case, field operatives can communicate with each other 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

over both voice dn data within a 900 metre radius of the RDU. Enclosed within the military standard case are all of the components required to enable the PMN. All of the software components are installed on the latest in rugged laptop technology. The laptop is built to withstand highly demanding conditions and gives the RDU operator the flexibility and control to administer the network away from the unit itself by utilising its built-in wireless capabilities. For portability, the unit has two internal military grade Lithium batteries, giving a life of around ten hours. However, its primary power source is 230V AC to both power the unit and also charge the batteries. If the battery life expires, the unit will shut down, ensuring that all components follow the correct closure procedure, thus eliminating problems at re-initialisation.

Secure GSM in the Office A PMN can be deployed into areas of high mobile usage or areas with poor or no macro GSM network coverage, such as warehouses or in-building areas with poor coverage/signal interference issues. It can be used to deploy mobile communications into remote regions or isolated user communities where network integration and infrastructure costs would otherwise be prohibitive. The solution is also ideal where temporary business locations are used. In an office or campus environment, a Secure GSM network enables mobile phones to become part of an internal telephony infrastructure while in the vicinity of the workplace. Organisations can implement localised islands of communication with the inherent security of GSM. This Secure GSM solution can be implemented either by the


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

replacement of the PBX with a private mobile network at a specific location or by integration of the private mobile network with the existing PBX infrastructure. Increased in-building coverage and mobile handsets operating as PBX extensions increase the overall ability to contact employees, lessen time to respond to queries, and provide a platform for quicker decision making. The BTS units are placed to give maximum coverage and provide the interface between the handset and the Secure GSM network. Callers are able to roam anywhere within the coverage area with call control being seamlessly handed between base stations. The PMN also provides the option to integrate alarm and notification systems into the mobile handset.

The User Interface To ensure that the network is secure from unwanted parties, only handsets with registered SIMs can utilise network functionality. The Secure GSM software checks the phones (using the SIM) and their hardware (using the IMSI) to ensure handsets are approved units for connection to the private network. Only notified changes of handsets are allowed. No one can roam on the network unless previously authorised. This database control means that both people and handsets are checked before accessing the networks. To ensure that the network is secure in the local area as well as when used over remote links, the PMN swaps encryptions as traffic moves between

networks. Encryption on handsets, when required, is supported by handsets such as Enigma, Cryotphone and Sectra using industry standard encryption algorithms, A5.1 and 5.2. A secure call is realised by making a data call rather than a standard voice call. This allows the audio to be encrypted without breaking the standard GSM voice compression and ensures proper transmission across different network types. The data call is usually made using the GSM CSD (Circuit Switched Data) services, although some handsets/software make use of the packet switched GPRS/EDGE service instead. Obviously in the latter case, the PMN system must include the optional GPRS element in order to support such functionality. Secure handsets which are based on CSD tend to use the same basic elements, namely use of CSD at 9.6 kbps, asynchronous, transparent mode for both mobile originating and mobile terminating calls. In order to support secure handsets PMN includes support for CSD for an asynchronous rate of 9.6kbps in transparent mode.

Connecting to the Outside World The use of PMN, whether from an office, in a vehicle, or as a Rapidly Deployment Unit, will usually require some form of backhaul of network traffic to a network operations centre or head office infrastructure. As far as PMN is concerned, however, as long as IP is supported, then the type of backhaul becomes almost

Secure GSM traffic can be distributed between locations over satellite, over IP or break out and pass over a national mobile network.

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SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

The PMN provides reliable and durable GSM communications over a seamless private network, replicating the functionality of a cellular network in software.

irrelevant. Of course, there may be network or bandwidth considerations that must be taken into account when determining the services and functionality that will be delivered over backhaul but the actual delivery of signalling will be exactly the same as over a standard wired Ethernet network. The PMN Ethernet connectivity allows it to be connected through external communication devices such as satellite or microwave in remote locations, or a fixed IP Backhaul such as IP Broadband or a VPN where available. PMN delivers secure GSM as long as it is not connected to anything. To extend the Secure GSM network into a multi-site network or give it connectivity to the outside world requires an interconnect that provides a secure service. For example, the link from the RDU or PMN to the satellite forwarding point needs to be a secure service. Satellite is a global method of backhauling IP traffic and is the preferred method for many PMN deployments due to its flexibility, ease of setup and relative cost. Terminals can range from large scale fixed installations to notebook sized BGAN terminals with varying levels of frequencies and bandwidth available. The military, for instance, have dedicated frequency bands and satellites to route their secure traffic.

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A Last Word In conclusion to achieve complete end to end security within a Secure GSM network users need to connect to the PMN with an encrypted handset and then go over a secure satellite connection to a Network Operations Centre (NOC) or another private GSM. Finally, the call would be delivered to the destination user on an encrypted handset. In secure installations using a private point-to-point link or secure satellite connection as the transport layer between remote sites means no special further capabilities are required as long as the connection is secured at either end. The PMN provides reliable and durable GSM communications over a seamless private network, replicating the functionality of a cellular network in software; a groundbreaking development that enables the creation of the Secure GSM network. Secure handsets supporting encryption algorithms and secure point-to-point satellite links together create the Secure GSM environment enabling fixed or mobile deployment of mobile phone based networks with the confidence that the network traffic is private, that unauthorised devices cannot be connected and that the network can be deployed when and where needed. The combination of these developments is a fully converged, seamless and secure mobile environment.


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

The Role of Secure GSM Technologies and the ISAF1 Counter Insurgency Campaign in Afghanistan Meredith Llewellyn, Lead Contributor, Defence Industry Reports

One estimate of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) connections in 2009 gave the figure of 3 billion worldwide.2 Yet establishing secure connectivity in Afghanistan or any war zone can present disproportionate problems. To quote the pre-mobile phone era Prussian military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz: “Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult. These difficulties accumulate and produce a friction, which no man can imagine exactly who has not seen war.�

Network Centric Warfare and tactical communications on the battlefield in Afghanistan The military implementation of transformation to Network Centric Warfare (or more recently Operations) places the use of tactical and strategic communications at the heart of American and thus ISAF fighting capability. The delivery of situation awareness by flows of speech and data are embedded in the communication chain between battlefield commanders, their patrols in forward operating bases (FOB) and the commanders of air

support either from aircraft or UAVs, (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The communication chain from the soldier on the ground has become more difficult to sustain because in counter insurgency operations he is often required to be dismounted i.e. away from his vehicle. This means that the signaler in charge of communications within a patrol has to carry batteries, equipment and antennae on foot in conditions that range from extreme desert heat, 45 degrees plus in the summer to arctic mountain conditions in the winter. Further, the current nature of counter insurgency warfare in Afghanistan demands that WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 7


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

“This radio proved to be unreliable and many small units purchased their own Garmin and

the soldier takes on many tasks in an insecure environment: one day rounding up suspected insurgent leaders, the next negotiating with village elders in a shura and the next helping secure power supplies to a local school or clinic. The isolation of small groups in an insecure environment where soldiers can be victims of IEDS (Improvised Explosive Devices) or ambush, calls for effective secure communications to call in support if needed.

Motorola Talk-About

What are the known problems with heritage communication systems?

radios for use in the

In a paper for the Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Alabama, USA, Major Joseph Pishock 3 describes some of the well-documented communication problems between foot soldier, air support and commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the US Marines fought largely in an urban environment with: “Thousands of low-powered Personal Role Radios. These relatively inexpensive and unencrypted systems (were) highly effective in urban environments. However, they only provide short-range communications (250 yards or less) between Marines and transmissions can still be blocked by buildings. While great at connecting Marines in the squad, they do little for linking together the numerous small units or talking to a distant headquarters, artillery or air support.” The US Army attempted to work around these limitations by a low powered short range radio the “soldier’s intercom,” known as the ICOM or by buying off-the-shelf products from home: “This radio proved to be unreliable and many small units purchased their own Garmin and Motorola Talk-About radios for use in the alleys and streets.” To counter act this problem Pishock describes the next generation of products sent on to the battlefield “network enabled radios”: “These radios are smart enough to track the positions of all the other radios within their network and route messages dynamically so that troops are not required to be directly within line of site for a message to get through. The last soldier in each network is now the limiting factor in how far a signal can travel instead of the transmission range of an individual radio. This has the effect of transmitting messages a little further at the tactical level but extending a message over the horizon to a higher headquarters or aircraft still requires a link such as satellite communications (SATCOM). “ So while it was now possible for soldiers and their artillery support on the ground to be in contact over a wide range, the communication problems with air support or distant headquarters could be severely limited under fire. But for

alleys and streets.”

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dismounted soldiers on patrol from Forward Operating Bases SATCOM radios present a heavy and inflexible option: “SATCOM radios are also heavy and require more batteries than their single channel counterparts. Signals must travel over 35,000 KM from earth to reach a satellite. This enormous distance requires a radio that can operate at a high power setting and handle the heat that results. The most common ground force SATCOM radios – the PSC 5 Spitfire and PRC 117F – weigh approximately 15 pounds each and require an additional eight pounds of batteries to operate during a 24 hour period. They commonly transmit at 20 watts of power to reach the satellite.” So soldiers preferred the most common and lighter line of sight radio, the PRC 148 and PRC 119. In urban terrain ground troops used “repeaters” to extend the range of their out of sight radios. “This allows troops to use light-weight and lowpowered radios to talk both locally and over the horizon. To work properly, however, repeaters must be placed high above the battlefield so that signals can travel nearly straight up and down – avoiding obstacles like buildings and trees.” For critical short-term operations Pishock describes Special Operations Forces and Marines using expensive helicopters or even airships to relay communications from a height to extend the range of their line of sight radios.

Communication challenges of heritage systems in Afghanistan Afghanistan is a country of 647,500 km2 where conflict is taking place in an extensive rural and mountainous battlefield for which many of the communication devices were not designed. “Small units operate independently and are often out of contact with their higher Headquarters. In general, the current suite of line of site radios ranges only about 5 miles and was never designed with a distributed battlefield in mind. It is not unusual for support to ground troops to be interrupted because they are unable to transmit outside of the valleys. Satellite communications are currently the only means to provide distributed units with the ability to communicate.” The response to the difficulties in Afghanistan was to procure very large numbers of satellite radios, which presented their own problems and a low quality solution bandwidth rationing. “The increased number of users quickly outpaced the capacity of the communication satellites to carry the traffic. To correct this shortfall, the normal 25KHZ wide-band SATCOM channels were divided into smaller 5KHZ channels. The smaller channel size has very low voice quality, poor data rates and can be difficult to acquire with hand-held directional antennas. Furthermore,


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

5KHZ channels adopted a protocol known as Demand Assigned, Multiple Access or DAMA. This effectively sets up a priority of users with a SATCOM channel so that the bandwidth can be shared. “ Bandwidth rationing had massive limitations on communications. There was time lag, poor quality voice transmission and difficulties accessing aircraft and moving platforms. The queuing for transmission time for several minutes made calls for support from helicopters or aircraft in combat extremely problematic. The flow of data was also unusable on modern equipment.

The bandwidth bottleneck The shortfall of bandwidth was a serious limitation on ISAF forces. The United States Congressional Budget Office in a report recognized this for the Tactical Air and Land Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services as significant: “First, at all levels of command within the Army, the current demand for bandwidth is larger than the supply—shortfalls of as much as an order of magnitude (or up to 10 times the amount of supply) can exist.4 There is a multi billion dollar planned increase in satellite capability the Transformational Communications Satellite System (TSAT). But this programme is already plagued by the common procurement problem of delays and budget overruns. Pishock describes two current work-arounds to help in Afghanistan: the Marine Corps purchase of $140 million of Harris PRC 150 radios for use in High-Frequency mode (HF).

These bounce signals off the atmosphere and communications can fail because of changes in atmospheric weather conditions. HF radios are also described as being unsuitable for dismounted soldiers because the antennas are large and they need to be stationary to set them up. The second option is the Iridium phone, which uses a series of low-earth orbit satellites to place calls like a cellular phone. It is said, it can go secure but it cannot access tactical radios or more than one person at a time. The key limitation here is that HF radio, DAMA or Iridium phones cannot provide connectivity for Air Force Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs) in Afghan mountain valleys. TACP’s according to Pishock could only talk to the ground when the aircraft was actually in the valley. SKYSAT was one attempt to alleviate the problem and the US air force have argued for various relatively low cost options of placing repeaters or transmitters in balloons or other lighter than air vehicles. These have succeeded in allowing contact between patrols on the ground and aircraft on the ground, so aircraft have time for orientation before taking action. However, these lighter than air systems have a relatively short life of 8-12 hours and therefore have limited use for daily use, but they may have an application for limited time operations. This concept has also been considered in a Rand Report on High Altitude Airships5 (HAA) where the authors argued HAA to be of value for tactical and strategic connectivity in the absence of access to new satellites. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 9


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

The History of the Development of Secure GSM Technologies Don McBarnet, Staff Writer, Defence Industry Reports

Work began for a standard of digital cellular telephony in the mid 1980’s through the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunication Administrations (CEPT). The task was given to a committee known as Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), aided by a ‘permanent nucleus’ of technical support personnel, based in Paris.6 A key theme under pinning the work was security to prevent interception of conversations or data.

In the United Kingdom the legality of the enforcement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act around the security of mobile phones is subject to legal action and obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

T

HE EARLIEST analog systems the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) and the Total Access Communication System (TACS) were easy prey to a radio hobbyist.7 However, the security was enhanced by checking Electronic Serial Number (ESN) credentials and the use of a speech-coding algorithm Gaussian Minimum Shift Keying (GMSK) digital modulation, slow frequency hopping, and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) time slot architecture. In 1987 a standard was set with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding in which 18 nations committed to implement cellular networks based on secure GSM specifications. By 1991 the GSM subscriber had gained total mobility, high capacity and

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optimal spectrum allocation and relatively high standard of security through the use of encryption algorithms.

Encryption and its implications The encryption algorithms used in mobile phones began to raise a number of sensitive political issues: the privacy rights of the individual, the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct surveillance and the business interests of corporations manufacturing cellular hardware for export who wished to keep encryption algorithms secret. These were serious issues, which are still hot political topics in the United Kingdom and Western Europe. The USA, Britain, the Netherlands and France, the algorithm developing nations, were also concerned that the


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

export of the encryption technology could result in codes being used by hostile military powers, terrorists or organized crime. In the United Kingdom the legality of the enforcement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act around the security of mobile phones is subject to legal action and obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Secure GSM use in Afghanistan For several years Afghans have had access to mobile phone systems and a rapidly expanding network. Insurgent supporters use them to report military movements, to record incidents and to trigger IEDS to injure ISAF and Afghan National Army patrols. In a World Bank blog10 on the impact of ICT on development in Afghanistan, Siddhartha Raja, a policy analyst with the Global ICT Department of the World Bank Group offers a snap shot of the penetration of secure GSM in Afghanistan. At the end of 2009 the number of mobile phone subscriptions had risen to 11 million subscribers, with almost 99 percent provided by four private mobile telephone networks. In 2002, the total number of telephones across Afghanistan had numbered 50,000, with most of them being in Kabul. With the fall of the Talibanregime in late 2002, however, the situation changed rapidly. At the end of 2009 the number of mobile phone subscriptions across the country was more than 11 million, with almost 99 percent of these provided by the four private mobile telephone networks11. The fifth network, run by state-owned Afghan Telecom, focused on wire line and regional connectivity. Siddhartha Raja noted that the CEO of Afghan Telecom said that: “Demand for their Village Communications Network systems (VCNs) outstrips supply. These US$2000-a-piece systems allow satellitebased voice and even data connectivity. Rural entrepreneurs are willing to put up this seemingly hefty investment (the nominal GDP per-capita is about US$450) to start providing telephone services in their villages or towns.” The use of mobile phone networks in Afghanistan is highly sensitive. As the Wall Street Journal reported12 the Taleban are controlling the availability and use of mobile phone signal in the area. “Every evening at dusk, cell phones go dead in this district just outside Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city. All three mobile-phone companies operating here turn off their antennas, returning to air only when the sun rises above the jagged hills to the east. The reason for this nightly blackout, implemented across southern and eastern Afghanistan: a Taliban decree that aims to prevent villagers from passing tips to coalition forces.

The Taliban also are trying to show who is really in charge in this part of the country by intimidating the cell phone industry, one of the rare Afghan economic success stories. When carriers tried to defy the edict in the past, insurgents destroyed cell phone towers and killed staff in response.… Market leader Roshan, part-owned by Britain’s Cable & Wireless and the Swedish-Finnish TeliaSonera group, says it switches off at least 60 of its 800 base towers in Afghanistan every night, including all of the company’s antennas in the Helmand province, the target of a large coalition advance in February. Roshan has 3.5 million Afghan customers.” What is worse it is alleged that ISAF civilian secure GSM networks have been hacked by the Taleban. The UK Mirror13 published an article stating: “That some families of British soldiers deployed in Afghanistan had received “hate calls” from Taleban believed based in Pakistan. The report claims senior commanders believe the Taleban get the phone numbers by monitoring troops’ mobile phone calls or from staff at Afghan phone companies. One of the newspaper’s unnamed sources states that the use of mobile phones is “a huge security problem.”

Secure GSM networks The rapid competitive developments to the software and encryption technology of secure mobile phone networks provide capabilities that the ISAF forces constantly monitoring. In January 2010 Harris Corporation announced a $24.5 million contract with the US Army for Harris Falcon III® AN/PRC-152 (C) multiband handheld radios and ancillary equipment and vehicular tactical radio systems for MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles). There is chatter on the internet of military interest in the Apple iphone.14 But more than idle chatter, the established suppliers to the United States modernization programme such as Selex Communications Inc. offer new forms of encryption, as does Thales, which is now supplying part of Germany’s Infanterist der Zukunft (IdZ). And mid 2010 General Dynamics awarded Lockheed Martin a $71 million contract for a Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), which will transfer data over a highly dispersed, non-contiguous area. This will link US Brigade combat teams maneuvering across wide geographic areas linked with commanders and the Global Information Grid. (GIG) The individual member states of ISAF cannot afford to ignore the constantly advancing advantages of new generations of secure mobile phone networks, their emerging technologies and their potential development of applications effective military use. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: SECURE GSM NETWORKS

References: 1

International Security Assistance Force

2

http://www.gsmworld.com/about-us/history.htm

3

AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY, USING LIGHTER THAN AIR VEHICLES AS TACTICAL COMMUNICATIONS RELAYS by Joseph M. Pishock, MAJ, USA Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama April 2007

4

Congressional Budget Office August 2003 This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study, which was prepared for the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services

5

Rand report on High altitude airships www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2005/RAND_TR423.sum.pdf. High altitude airships for the future force army Lewis Jamison, Geoffrey S Sommer, Isaac R Porche

6

http://www.etsi.org/WebSite/homepage.aspx

7

GSM Security and Encryption by David Margrave, George Mason University, USA http://www.hackcanada.com/blackcrawl/cell/gsm/gsmsecur/gsm-secur.html

8

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/28/gsm_eavesdropping_breakthrough/

9

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html

10

Baley!* Submitted by Siddhartha Raja on Fri, 2009-10-30 18:00

11

The four private mobile telephone networks include important international companies (South Africa’s MTN and UAE’s Etisalat) and networks with well-respected backers (Roshan, whose backers include the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Monaco Telecom International, and Nordic TeliaSonera; and AWCC, founded by well-known Afghan philanthropist Ehsan Bayat). Together, these firms have invested well over US$1 billion in their networks and services.

12

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704117304575137541465235972.html 22.03.2010 by YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

13

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/afghanistan/warlogs/7BEAFEEF-2219-0B3F-9FAFF50618F58944

14

http://kitup.military.com/2010/06/army-testing-iphones-for-comms-but-apple-might-lose-out.html

12 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


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Special Report – Secure GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications  

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Special Report – Secure GSM Networks in Modern Military Applications  

Defence Industry Reports - Special Report on Secure GSM Networks in ModernMilitary Applications