CISA at 2019 APCO: Day 2

Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Office of External Affairs

Association for Public-Safety Officials (APCO) Conference

APCO 2019, APCO International’s Annual Conference and Expo, is the premier event for public safety communications officials, from frontline telecommunicators to communications center managers to public safety communications equipment and services vendors.  Over 5,000 attendees represent a wide range of organizations, including emergency communications centers, law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical services, and government agencies, along with service providers and commercial vendors. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) at Exhibit Hall on today and Tuesday in Booth #659, but first CISA partnered with its public safety partners in the session Protections, Capabilities, and Real-World Deployments of Encryption Protocols.

Protections, Capabilities, and Real-World Deployments of Encryption Protocols

The session was hosted by CISA and moderated by Jim Downes, Chief of the Federal Emergency Communications Section and the Chair of the Project 25 Steering Committee.  The panel members consisted of practitioners with real-world experience in fielding encryption solutions for public safety land mobile radio (LMR) system in both federal, state, and local governments. 

The speakers provided brief backgrounds of their technical experience and how their departments and agencies use encryption to protect sensitive law enforcement and emergency management information.  Most of the time was devoted to a question-answer (Q&A) format where the moderator would ask a question to be answered by each of the panelists.  This format was highly successful and elicited quite a bit of Q&A with the audience, enabling the panelists to relay their experience with encryption.  It became evident that encryption is increasingly becoming a more urgent requirement and many agencies are relying on those public safety partners who have already deployed encryption to share their experiences.

As encryption is used to increase communications security, more and more public safety agencies are including encryption in their system requirements.  In addition, to ensure a continued emphasis on protection of sensitive information, effective key management must be warranted.  Public safety at all levels of government can enhance interoperability in an encrypted environment by learning how these complex systems work in the LMR environment.

CISA continues tomorrow with a panel entitled DHS Efforts to Improve Emergency Communications,  Ron Hewitt, CISA Assistant Director for Emergency Communications will provide a keynote at the Second General Business Session, and we continue exhibiting with S&T at ACPO 2019. For CISA’s full schedule of events at APCO 2019, please visit the SAFECOM Blog.