Army upgrading cryptograhic equipment

Army makes headway on cryptographic equipment upgrades

The Army is making progress replacing cryptographic devices with upgraded equipment as part of the Army-Wide Cryptographic Network Standardization, or ACNS, initiative. 

The upgrades will use modern, standard, user friendly cryptographic equipment to streamline protection of information on the tactical network, the Army said. 

The updates also use more software-based programmable devices as opposed to “hard-coded” equipment  to provide greater agility and seamless integration for future updates.  "So in theory, if the hardware box can survive 30 years without breaking, we would only need to do software upgrades instead of what we're doing today, which includes totally replacing hardware and software,” said James Hayden, the ACNS lead for Communications Security, or COMSEC, Cryptographic Systems.

Another reason for the push to modernize is that legacy systems will not be supported on IPv6, the internet protocol to which the Army and all other federal agencies are required to migrate.

The upgrades first started in 2012 with retrofits in the United States before moving to European bases and then the Pacific.  The initiative will replace thousands of outdated end cryptographic units \ at the tune of $283 million.  The modernization effort is believed to save the Army money in the long run, however. 

More than 6,000 pieces of legacy equipment have already been removed from the field and are in the process of being disposed of. 

"As the network and mission command systems continue to evolve, so too must our cryptographic devices," Robert Vik, product director for COMSEC Cryptographic Systems stated. "This initiative ensures soldiers have the most modern equipment possible. Without it, it would could compromise secret-and-above information being transported."

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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