Electronic Weapons: January 15, 2003

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The military's love-hate relationship with wireless networking ("wi-fi") is getting some help from commercial firms with the same security problems. The military wants to use a version of wireless networking so that troops can rapidly exchange all sorts of information on the battlefield. Back at their bases, the troops also like wi-fi because units are constantly being reshuffled and moved around. Wi-fi allows them to get their computer networks back up and running quickly, without having to wire their new buildings. One commercial solution, which will probably end up in military wireless networks involves dynamic key rotation. This means that all signals are encrypted (using a longer cipher than the current, easily broken, 40 bit encryption) and the encryption keys automatically changed at regular, or irregular, intervals so any hackers listening in don't have time to crack (if they can) and use the keys. Commercial technology like this has to be adopted by the military, otherwise the wireless networks are too dangerous for the military to use. Yet there is a great loss in efficiency and effectiveness if the wireless nets are not used. It takes a lot longer for the military to develop their own technical solutions, thus the eagerness to find and use appropriate commercial solutions. 

 


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