Author: Jim Downes, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Section Chief
Public safety voice communications are continually at risk of being intercepted by unauthorized personnel. Vulnerability to radio transmissions can jeopardize tactical operations, put law enforcement officers and other responders at risk, and compromise personal identifiable information (PII). When public safety agencies make the decision to encrypt any or all transmissions, effective encryption key management is of paramount importance.
To help agencies understand and effectively manage encryption keys, SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), in collaboration with the Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications (FPIC), developed the Encryption Key Management Fact Sheet. Public safety organizations can leverage the Fact Sheet's information and familiarize themselves with the many aspects of encryption key management. Specifically, the document:
- Provides an overview of some of the different types of encryption and how to obtain encryption keys;
- Guides public safety organizations on whether to encrypt their land mobile radio systems; and
- Offers information on how public safety organizations can best manage encryption keys.
“Encryption as a concept, especially interoperable encryption, is relatively new for many. No longer does encryption need to be an impediment to interoperability. With proper planning and awareness, encryption can be both operable and interoperable,” says Scott Wright, Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, who assisted in the development of the fact sheet. “Outreach and education efforts, such as this [fact sheet], will help the public safety community with their planning efforts.”