GSM wireless phone can safeguard top secrets

General Dynamics Corp.'s TalkSecure cell phone for Global System for Mobile wireless networks can talk with the company's Sectera wireless phones, including Type 1 units cleared for classified traffic.

Some law enforcement and emergency-response agencies as well as the Defense Department use the Type 1 Sectera phones.

'A lot of people see this as a solution to an interoperable homeland security infrastructure,' said Stan Johnson, business area manager for General Dynamics' decision systems group in Scottsdale, Ariz.

TalkSecure's encryption module fits on the back of a Motorola Timeport GSM triband phone. The phone works in unencrypted mode as an ordinary cell phone or in secure mode with other TalkSecure or Type 1 phones. The module uses 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard encryption with elliptic-curve key exchange. There is no caller authentication, however.

The round-trip delay caused by encryption is less than a second, Johnson said. The Motorola phone is about five inches long and an inch thick with an accessory connection for the encryption module, which measures about three inches long and a half-inch thick.

U.S. trade regulations permit the phone to be exported to other countries. 'We built the most secure device we could with the goal of being able to export it,' Johnson said. Because of its international market, the $2,295 phone follows the GSM cellular standard, used by about 650 million people worldwide and about 70 percent of the global wireless market.

GSM gaining

GSM is dominant in Europe and Japan. It has a much smaller U.S. share than competing Code Division and Time Division Multiple Access standards but is the fastest-growing wireless technology here.

The company also introduced a TalkSecure WireLine Terminal to protect conversations with the government's older analog secure wireline phones.

Contact General Dynamics Decision Systems at 800-972-0068.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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