Sponsored by Spectra Group
02 Mar 23. IAI launches new software-defined radio. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) subsidiary Elta Systems has launched a new airborne software-defined radio (SDR).
Announced by IAI on 2 March, the ARC 840 SDR – Network Centric Operations (SDR-NCO) system is the latest in Elta’s portfolio of military airborne communications that provides voice, video, and data communications.
Operating on very high frequency (VHF), ultra-high frequency (UHF), and L-band frequency ranges, the radio is interoperable with a wide variety of existing military and commercial radios, enabling aircrews to communicate with forces on the ground, in the air, and at sea, the announcement said.
Featuring a modular architecture, SDR-NCO comprises two user-swappable radio frequency (RF) modules that allow the user to tailor the frequency band combinations to suit different mission requirements. The radio is designed to support command and control, navigation, video sharing, and other network applications, according to the announcement.
The system also implements transmission security (TRANSEC) and communications security (COMSEC) frequency-hopping support as well as low probability of intercept (LPI) techniques to provide a high degree of security. (Source: Janes)
02 Mar 23. DASA seeks AI innovations to solve defence challenges.
This IFA seeks innovative proposals that apply AI to defence challenges and help overcome common barriers to implementing AI within defence
- DASA has launched a new Innovation Focus Area (IFA) called Artificial Intelligence for Defence
- This IFA is run on behalf of the Defence AI Centre (DAIC), which seeks to exploit innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) research at pace
- This IFA seeks to harness many types of AI innovations to deliver significant benefits to defence, such as autonomous logistics, machine-speed decision making and human-machine teaming for military effects
The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and the Defence AI Centre (DAIC) are pleased to launch a new Innovation Focus Area (IFA), Artificial Intelligence for Defence. This IFA seeks proposals for innovative research projects that apply AI to defence challenges and / or aim to overcome common barriers to implementing AI within defence.
Applying AI to overcome common defence challenges
The Defence AI Strategy (DAIS) sets out the UK’s vision to adapt and exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) at pace and scale for defence advantage. This IFA aims to generate the best ideas from a diverse range of innovators and offers the opportunity for innovators to suggest AI projects to defence.
The application of AI to defence challenges will enhance military capability, allowing the UK and its allies to maintain an advantage in defence and security. Defence also wants to harness the efficiency benefits that AI is bringing to a wide range of other sectors. Examples of desired outcomes from AI include changes in:
- the quality and timeliness of intelligence data available to military commanders
- the effectiveness in planning and conducting operations
- reducing the risk to life of armed forces personnel through the use of uncrewed, autonomous platforms
- automating routine tasks to free defence personnel up to do higher value activities
- achieving better value for the taxpayer by making the business of defence more efficient
Do you have a novel idea or concept? Read the full IFA document and submit a proposal.
DASA and DAIC are interested in funding proposals that harness all types of AI to deliver significant benefits to defence. For example:
- autonomous logistics and any research with the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of the logistics chain or increase availability
- exploiting operational data, e.g. to support intelligence analysis, or to protect the force. This could require using open source data or classified data from any source, including sensors; if the exploitation of the innovation is likely to use classified data, your proposal would benefit from considering how this could be achieved (please note that no classified data will be provided)
- human-machine teaming for military effect (including the use of autonomous systems within the force, and the coordination of multiple crewed / autonomous systems)
- machine-speed decision making (e.g. to support operational planning and command and control)
- increasing efficiency, or how defence manages and supports its people and its systems
For a more detailed breakdown of this IFA’s challenge areas, read the full IFA document.
Is your innovation suitable for this IFA? See DASA’s other AI competitions.
Please note that proposals addressing the application of AI to either sub-threshold activity in the information domain, or understanding and analysing audiences should apply to different DASA competitions. These particular themes will be will be the focus of the competitions, Machine Speed Strategic Analysis (MSSA) and Understanding Audiences.
See Competitions in our Pipeline for more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/apply-for-funding
Please speak to your Innovation Partner if you have any questions: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/contact-a-dasa-innovation-partner
Submit a proposal
Do you have an AI innovation that applies AI to defence challenges and / or aims to overcome common barriers to implementing AI within defence?
Read the full IFA and submit a proposal: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-and-security-accelerator-dasa-open-call-for-innovation/ifa039-ai-for-defence
01 Mar 23. US Cyber Command developing own intelligence hub.
U.S. Cyber Command, tasked with defending Department of Defense IT networks and coordinating cyberspace operations, is developing its own intelligence hub, after years of relying on other information-gathering sources.
The endeavor, still in its infancy, is meant to buttress data collection and augment CYBERCOM’s understanding of foreign capabilities in the ever-expanding cyber realm.
“We know everything about a T-72 tank, all the way to every nut and bolt in there, for the Army,” Col. Candice Frost, the leader of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center at CYBERCOM, said at a Feb. 28 event hosted by Billington Cybersecurity in Virginia. “But we don’t have that for networks, with respect to an all-source capability.”
“Congress asked us: Do we need a center that is focused on all-source intelligence to support Cyber Command, in the cyber domain?” Frost said. “And the answer was a resounding yes.”
The prospective Cyber Intelligence Center was previously teased by CYBERCOM’s director of intelligence, Brig. Gen. Matteo Martemucci. He told the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association International’s Signal magazine in November that an in-depth review of assets highlighted a need for a hub dedicated to analyzing cyber expertise and exploits abroad.
It would complement the slate of well-established centers and intel-collecting practices with products that are sought-after but still not available, Martemucci said at the time.
Cyber as a discipline and general interest area has exploded in recent years. Paralyzing ransomware attacks, as was seen with Colonial Pipeline, and the bloody Russia-Ukraine war have pushed discussions about digital destruction to the popular fore.
Frost in her remarks acknowledged the work already done by the National Ground Intelligence Center, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and others, which feed the U.S. defense colossus scientific and technical information about faraway forces. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Mar 23. The Defense Information Systems Agency announced the successful completion of its Thunderdome prototype. For the past 12 months, DISA has developed and implemented a zero-trust network access architecture, which will fortify the U.S. Department of Defense’s networks and deter the growing threats posed by adversaries’ intent on undermining U.S. national security interests and international order.
DISA’s Thunderdome prototype successfully proved that commercial technologies, including Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), Software Defined-Wide Area Networks/Customer Edge Security Stack (CESS) and Application Security Stacks, can improve both security and network performance in an existing enterprise environment. Thunderdome is a set of technologies that are integrated with, but not dependent upon, each other.
“China is our pacing threat,” said Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, DISA director and Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network commander. “China continues to challenge us at every turn. DISA, and JFHQ-DODIN, are working tirelessly to strengthen and sustain a cyber resilience advantage above our adversaries across all the warfighting domains.
“Thunderdome will help us achieve this advantage by making DOD’s networks more secure and thereby more challenging for threat actors to gain access to DOD systems. And our Thunderdome prototype validates our success.”
According to Brian Hermann, Ph.D., DISA’s Cyber Security and Analytics Directorate director, DISA met the success criteria for the prototype including the integration of SASE and CESS to enable conditional access to applications and resources based on user and device attributes as well as the user’s geolocation and time of use. Thunderdome can ensure that the right person is accessing the right data, on a managed device, from a trusted location at the appropriate time.
Thunderdome proved, with real users, that the solution works. DISA onboarded approximately 1,500 test users at three locations to use Thunderdome’s remote and on-premises capabilities to perform their daily responsibilities. Results showed that Thunderdome increased network performance, and DISA independently validated its services improved security.
“This is a huge advancement for DISA, and the department, on the zero-trust journey,” said Christopher Barnhurst, DISA deputy director. “Thunderdome has confirmed its potential by laying a zero-trust technology foundation, but the work doesn’t end there. To truly accomplish the department’s zero-trust goals, DISA’s next steps include changing the culture to implement policies and procedures to make use of zero-trust technologies and approaches in every program.”
Thunderdome’s success is a major milestone and a key step toward meeting the DOD chief information officer’s zero-trust targets.
DISA’s Thunderdome solution also aligns with several federal cybersecurity modernization efforts to include the president’s executive order on improving the nation’s cybersecurity, the DOD’s national defense strategy’s zero-trust, automation and cyber objectives, and DODCIO’s digital modernization strategy.
Beyond the security benefits of a zero-trust driven architecture and the additional data provided by Thunderdome, DISA’s prototype displayed increased network performance metrics for remote access. One of Thunderdome’s greatest benefits is that its architecture has significantly simplified network administration through automation, which improves performance and increases efficiency. With Thunderdome, policies are defined once, and get applied to all relevant devices automatically.
Additionally, DISA recently began deploying some of the zero-trust technologies used for Thunderdome’s unclassified prototype on its classified network. By doing so, Thunderdome’s tools can apply condition-based access controls to data on DISA’s classified enterprise network, making this network more secure.
DISA will seek approval for a production other transaction agreement from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to offer Thunderdome, across the department, for at-scale deployment. (Source: PR Newswire)
01 Mar 23. U.S. Air Force Awards Persistent Systems $75.5m Contract for Regional Operating Picture Program. Persistent’s Wave Relay® network enables airmen equipped with MANET devices to seamlessly share voice, video, chat, sensor, and GPS data. IRON, serving the U.S. Air Force’s ROP program, will extend this robust network over a 25,000-square-mile geographic area, connecting MANET edge networks into one unified Battlespace Awareness Network for increased situational awareness.
“U.S. military bases can sprawl tens of thousands of square miles, and as it stands now, there’s no dynamic, high-bandwidth way for headquarters staff to track, and reliably remain in contact with, the security personnel patrolling this vast area,” said Adrien Robenhymer, Persistent’s VP of Business Development. “Should personnel run into problems in the field, they wouldn’t have effective support from an operations center.”
ROP utilizes IRON, an easy-to-deploy Integrated MANET Antenna System on fixed towers and poles to create a permanent Wave Relay® MANET coverage area. Around 700 IRON systems will be installed to deliver 25,000 square miles of coverage, connecting 75 operation centers, and over 1,000 Security Force vehicles—resulting in the largest MANET network in the world.
With ROP in place, security personnel on a missile field can now maintain constant communication through the towers to an Operations Center (OC). Likewise, the staff at the OC can follow the movement, and know the precise location, of the Security Forces on a digital map, also known as a Common Operational Picture (COP). Both parties can seamlessly share critical tactical mission data for information fusion and action.
“The first step will be to roll out ROP across Malmstrom, Minot, and F.E. Warren Air Force Bases with eventually more to come,” said Robenhymer. “But IRON has other applications beyond situational awareness. It facilitates a fully digital battlespace that links multiple weapon systems and programs in a unified network. It provides the foundation on which a true Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) system could be built.”
IRON is also used with networked weapons, base defense, distribution of over-the-horizon communications for airborne counterinsurgency, and to support the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept for dealing with near-peer powers targeting large air bases.
“With our easy deployment and robust network, we can enable the rapid set-up of small, spartan airstrips manned by any number of personnel,” said Robenhymer. “ROP is just the beginning.”
The ROP Program has already commenced deploying IRON systems across the missile fields and will continue over the next 36 months. (Source: PR Newswire)
02 Mar 23. Russian IADS Redux Part-1: Resonating with Resonance. Algeria has acquired a single Resonance-NE radar, the export variant of the Resonance-N, which is located on the country’s Mediterranean coast. It provides coverage of air approaches to the country from southern France and Spain, and eastern Morocco.
In the first part of a new Armada series aiming to demystify Russia’s Integrated Air Defence System we examine the Resonance-N/NE ground-based air defence radar family.
Armada is collaborating with EW Analytics, a company that conducts open-source electronic warfare research, in our Russian IADS Redux series.
The Resonance-N/NE is a family of ground-based air surveillance radars. Russian sources say the Resonance-N is the version in service with the country’s armed forces. The export version is known as the Resonance-NE. The sources continue that the Islamic Republic of Iran has acquired at least four systems which are designated locally as the Ghadir. In 2017, Algeria procured a Resonance-NE with Egypt following one year later. The locations of the Algerian and Egyptian radars can be found easily on social media. The picture below, also taken from social media, details where the Iranian radars are located.
Several Resonance-N radars are believed to have been declared operational by Russia between 2014 and 2018. They are operated by the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet and deployed with the Western Military District. According to the Barents Observer one radar is located in Zapolyarny, 15.5 kilometres/km (9.66 miles) from Russia’s border with Norway. Another is located in Cape Kanin on the Barents Sea coast 500km (310 miles) east of the Russo-Norwegian border. A third Arctic-based Resonance-N is located in Varandey, 1,093km (680 miles) from the Norwegian border. However, this is disputed. Some sources saying the radar is slightly further west on the coast at Indiga, 1,058km (658 miles) from the border. The fourth radar to be constructed in the Arctic is located in Ostrovnoy, also on the Barents Sea coast. This is 396km (246 miles) from the border. A fifth Resonance-N has been constructed at Rogachevo airbase on the island of Novaya Zemlya betwixt the Barents and Kara seas. The Barents Observer report said the Russian government intends to build a chain of Resonance-N radars. These will cover the coasts of the Barents, Kara and East Siberian seas.
The radars provide strategic surveillance of Russia’s Arctic air approaches, deployed to detect, locate and track incoming air-breathing threats. These include strategic bombers and surface-to-surface/air-to-surface cruise missiles. They are also reportedly capable of detecting and tracking incoming ballistic missiles.
The Resonance-N uses the very high frequency waveband. Within that waveband EW Analytics says that the radar may transmit specifically between 35MHz to 70MHz. Generally speaking, very high frequency wavebands are good for detecting targets with low Radar Cross Sections (RCSs). Russian airpower experts have probably calculated correctly that any US-led conventional and/or nuclear air attack on Russia will see widespread use of low-RCS platforms and weapons. This could include US Air Force Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit and forthcoming B-21 Raider strategic bombers. Such aircraft maybe escorted by Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and/or F-35A Lightning combat aircraft. All these platforms have low radar cross sections. Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and Raytheon’s AGM-129A Advanced Cruise Missile, both of which also have a low RCS design, could also be used in such a scenario.
Russian sources seen by Armada say claim the radar can detect a fighter-sized target (presumably with an RCS of circa 1.2m2) at 32,808 feet/ft (10,000 metres/m) at 189nm (300km) range. The sources continue that the radar offers accuracy to within 300 metres (91 feet) for range. The margin of error in azimuth and elevation is 1.5 degrees. The margin of error for velocity is one knot (1.8 kilometres-per-hour). The Resonance-N’s maximum range for undisclosed air-breathing targets is 324nm (600km). They also claim a maximum detection range of 594nm (1,100km) and 328,084ft (100,000m) altitude. The radar’s elevation angle is between 1.5 and 80 degrees and it can track up to 500 targets.
In terms of physical architecture the radar has four arrays, each providing 90 degrees of azimuth giving full 360 degrees surveillance. The large arrays act as the receiving antenna determining target azimuth. Each large array is flanked by two vertical receiving tower-mounted antennas for determining target elevation. The radar signal is transmitted by four tower-mounted antennas positioned at each corner of the four arrays. A dome-shrouded Lira-VME identification friend or foe secondary surveillance radar is mounted on a tower in the centre of the arrays.
The Resonance-N’s radar waveform comprises a long duration pulse for ballistic missile detection and a short duration pulse for detecting low RCS aircraft. EW Analytics has found authoritative documentation which shows specific examples of Resonance-N frequencies which include, but are not limited to, 51.3MHz (long duration pulses) and 55.5MHz (short pulses) as well as frequencies of 49.4MHz (long pulses) and 50.4MHz (short pulses). The radar may automatically monitor the 35MHz to 70MHz waveband to determine if its transmissions are being jammed. If jamming is detected, it may be possible for the radar operator to blank out sections of radar coverage where the jamming is coming from. However, this will degrade the radar’s coverage of that patch of sky. Additional electronic counter-countermeasure capabilities include agility across between 350 and 500 distinct transmission frequencies.
Chain of Command
Radar data generated by a Resonance-N radar is probably sent to Russian Air Force Aviation Guidance Points (AGPs) which act as ground-controlled interception centres. EW Analytics says the data may be sent to the AGPs across satellite communications, conventional fixed telecommunications and/or radio. Once at the AGP, personnel will task fighters to engage the threat vectoring them based on the Resonance-N’s data.
Next month, Part 2 of Armada’s Russian IADS Redux series will examine the Russian IADS’ 12A6 Sopka-2 ground-based air surveillance radar. Stay tuned! (Source: Armada)
02 Mar 23. Famous Five. “5G will provide a transport layer that we’ll have to address in the Electronic Warfare (EW) community,” observed Colonel Kevin Finch. Col. Finch is the deputy director of the US Department of Defence’s DISA (Defence Information Systems Agency). He was speaking at Executive Biz’ 2023 Electronic Warfare Forum on 19th January 2023.
Fifth-generation (5G) cellular communications standards are being introduced globally. These new protocols use low- and mid-band, and Millimetre Wave (MMW) segments of the radio spectrum. The low-band frequencies are akin to those used by 4G, typically 400 megahertz/MHz to 3.4 gigahertz/GHz. Mid-band encompasses frequencies of 2.4GHz to 4.2GHz and while MMW inhabits 24GHz up to 72GHz. 5G promises significant increases in data rates compared to current 4G protocols. These could reach 20 gigabits-per-second. Latency could fall from circa 20 to 30 milliseconds for 4G, to under ten milliseconds for 5G. More subscribers can be hosted on a single 5G node than on its existing 4G equivalent. Current 4G cellular protocols can support circa 4,000 devices per square kilometre (0.38 square miles). This increases to circa one m when using the MMW frequencies 5G offers.
Internet of Military Things
These new protocols are integral to the forthcoming Internet of Things (IOT). Oracle describes the IOT as a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software and technologies. This allows them to exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. The defence world is embracing this technology via the Internet of Military Things (IOMT). The IOMT follows a similar methodology to the IOT. It emphasises the connection of every platform, sensor, weapons system, warfighter and base. This will enable continuous exchanges of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data, plus health and usage monitoring information with cloud computing applications where this information will be stored. The rationale behind the IOMT is to improve the quality and pace of decision-making and action at strategic, operational and tactical levels. Militarised 5G forms a key part of the US Department of Defence’s (DOD) Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) architecture. JADC2 is being implemented across the DOD and US armed forces to network all warfighting assets to each other.
The DOD is not alone in exploiting 5G technology, her rivals are taking a similar interest. As the 2022 US DOD’s Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China noted, that country has poured significant investment into 5G. Ostensibly this is for civilian purposes, particularly commerce. Nonetheless, such technology could easily be used by the military. As Armada reported in February, the People’s Liberation Army is moving ahead with a JADC2-style system. This will almost certainly include 5G connectivity.
Finding the Signal
5G holds two electronic warfare challenges. The first is that Signals of Interest (SOI) could use a morass of 5G users as camouflage. Imagine the challenge of trying to find one or two 5G SOIs in a megacity of over ten m people, all of whom maybe on 5G networks. Secondly, EW practitioners will need to discriminate military and civilian 5G networks on and around the battlefield. The latter will need to be left largely undisturbed, if possible, from a ‘hearts and mind’ perspective. The former will need to be exploited for intelligence, and disrupted and degraded as and when necessary.
“Go back 20 years and look how the electromagnetic spectrum was used in your home,” Col. Finch told delegates. “Fast forward to today and you have a proliferation of Wi-Fi and scores of networks and cellphones.” He warned that “we are now trying to find needles in a haystack in a heavily-congested electromagnetic spectrum.”
Col. Finch suggested several ways to address the 5G EW challenge: “We need to be joined at the hip with the intelligence community … SOIs as they appear will need to be quickly handed off to the EW community.” He also suggested that “computing at the edge will be hugely important. Areas will be so congested we can only send interesting items back to get analysed at the higher level.” Meanwhile, it is likely adversaries will be targeting friendly communications with conventional jamming and cyberattacks: “We may have limited bandwidth and be restricted on what we can share.” Ultimately, the 5G challenge is going to evolve and “we are going to have to chase an ever-smarter mouse.” (Source: Armada)
02 Mar 23. March Spectrum SitRep.
Armada’s monthly round-up of all the latest electronic warfare news in the product, programme and operational domains.
Artemis and BlackFish for Linx
Airborne Technologies has completed integration of Smith Myers’ Artemis and Horizon Technologies’ BlackFish payloads into the company’s Airborne Linx mission management system. Artemis is a communications intelligence system which detects, locates and tracks cellphone transmissions. BlackFish performs similar tasks for satellite phones. Linx can be installed in rotary and fixed-wing aircraft and uninhabited aerial vehicles. It manages and consolidates the data from several disparate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads installed on the platform. Wolfgang Grumeth, Airborne Technologies’ chief executive officer, told Armada that integration of these payloads with existing Linx ensembles is possible. He continued that plans are afoot to deliver Linx systems configured for signals intelligence gathering to a non-disclosed Middle Eastern customer by the end of this year’s second quarter.
Submarine Spectrum Enhancements
The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $19 m for the “design and qualification testing of submarine electronic warfare equipment” according to a press release. The work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Syracuse, New York State. The press release said this will be completed by February 2024. A written statement from Lockheed Martin said the work concerns the company’s AN/BLQ-10(V) electronic support measure used widely across the US Navy’s submarine fleet. No details have been released on what the contract entails, but the company said the work “allows the navy to continue to stay ahead of the threat.” In January 2022, Armada reported that Progeny Systems was awarded a $8 m contract to upgrade the AN/BLQ-10(V). This covered the systems’ human-machine interfaces and was scheduled to be completed by 2023.
The Sting of the Scorpion
Allen-Vanguard disclosed that the company is supplying its Ancile counter-uninhabited aerial vehicle and Scorpion electronic countermeasure to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) armed forces. The latter provides protection against radio-frequency activated improvised explosive devices. Both are supplied via the company’s local partner Trust International and are now in service with the UAE military. A press release announcing the news said that Ancile has also been developed in a vehicle-mounted configuration. It can be detached from the vehicle and used as a stand-alone system if desired. A written statement from Allen-Vanguard said both Ancile and Scorpion are deployed with other Gulf Cooperation Council nations. The company added that deliveries of both systems should conclude before the end of March.
Allen-Vanguard’s Scorpion electronic countermeasure and the company’s Ancile counter-uninhabited aerial vehicle system are both being supplied to the United Arab Emirates’ armed forces.
Elettronica and Etimad’s Strategic Partnership
Elettronica and Etimad Holdings have signed a strategic partnership to establish an integrated logistics hub for Electronic Warfare (EW) systems in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An Elettronica press release disclosed this will cover the repair and maintenance of Elettronica’s EW products locally. The news was announced during the recent IDEX defence exhibition held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The company told Armada via a written statement that, while the collaboration focuses on the UAE market, “it does not exclude the possibility to extend to other countries.” The statement described the partnership as an “evolution of the traditional offset approach, localising logistics services which shall be provided close to the end user.” Beyond this, it will allow both companies “to explore the provision of EW systems (and) solutions for surveillance and protection based on the sharing of Elettronica’s and Etimad Holdings’ capabilities, merging Elettronica’s long-standing experiences … (with) … Etihad’s experience in command and control, and system integration.”
Etienne-Lacroix Expands Presence in UAE
A strategic partnership between Etienne-Lacroix and Remah International Group has been concluded establishing a joint venture called Gulf ACM, explained a press release announcing the news. The agreement was signed during February’s IDEX defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The joint venture covers the construction of a factory for advanced countermeasures, the press release continued. Its core focus will be “on developing and supporting the local aerospace and defence industry” and serving the UAE armed forces. Sources close to the joint venture told Armada that production at the facility could start within the next two years. (Source: Armada)
02 Mar 23. New malware that bypasses Windows firmware and security features will allow unsophisticated threat actors to target cyber secure businesses. Researchers from ESET published a report on 1 March about a bootkit that is capable of bypassing secure boot on Windows devices. The bootkit, named ‘BlackLotus’, is for sale on the dark web for USD 5000 which will provide unsophisticated threat actors the ability to conduct sophisticated attacks. The bootkit targets UEFI and loads the malware before the booting process fully initiates, preventing any security tools from stopping it, including built-in tools like BitLocker. BlackLotus supports backdoor capabilities, allowing the threat actors to conduct multi-stage attacks for espionage, information theft or disruption. The malware does not run if it is on a device located in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. As such, there is a realistic possibility that the threat actors using the malware are from one of these countries. This is the first known malware that is capable of bypassing firmware and there is a likelihood others will follow, increasing the threat to all organisations, even ones that have proper cyber defences in place for prevention and detection. (Source: Sibylline)
01 Mar 23. Thales reinforces its eSIM management leadership with Google Cloud certified and energy efficient services.
- Hundreds of MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) already trust in Thales’s eSIM management expertise to support massive predicted increase in adoption and deployment of eSIM (embedded SIM)-enabled devices.
- To boost its offering and better address MNOs needs, Thales has set a unique Cloud’s approach, which relies on the energy efficient and GSMA certified Google Cloud, with geo-redundant Thales vaults to secure data.
- Consumers and enterprises worldwide will enjoy the benefits of secure and smooth remote activation of their eSIM-enabled devices as it starts to become the new norm.
Thales, the world leader in eSIM management, supports the growth of eSIM-enabled consumer and industrial devices with Google Cloud expertise. Thales’ pioneering Cloud solution combines its own security assets with Google’s cloud presence in 200 countries to provide enhanced security, flexibility, and service availability to MNOs.
Remote eSIM activation, anytime and anywhere
By 2025, the number of eSIM connections is estimated to reach close to 9 bn1. Fuelled by 5G, the growth in connections is the result of increased connectivity of consumer products such as smartphones, tablets and wearables, and numerous industrial devices. With Thales’ eSIM management platform hosted on Google Cloud completed with Thales digital onboarding solutions, MNOs can offer their subscribers the speed, convenience and efficiency of activating subscriptions remotely. Today, Thales is able to meet high demands from hundreds of customers worldwide, including Telefonica, one of the world’s largest telco operators and mobile network providers.
The perfect response to MNOs digital transformation and exponential IoT growth
With easy and secure access to Thales services hosted on Google Cloud, mobile operators can respond immediately to surging demand for eSIM activation and offer their subscribers a full digital experience. Such solutions also provide greater scalability as well as resources mutualisation, enabling mobile operators efficiently and rapidly deploy new services. In terms of security, Thales keeps full control, by designing highly secure end-to-end hardware and software, as well as by storing and managing the secret codes in its secure vaults (secret codes are keys used by devices for eSIM activation to securely access mobile networks). This underpins world-class data privacy, sovereign cloud approach and rigorous defence against cyberattacks.
Certified and sustainable
The eSIM usage has become mission-critical to enable a sustainable access to connectivity for the expanding consumer and industrial IoT. Thales’ integration of global GSMA-certified solution protects MNOs against interruptions in any part of the world. MNOs therefore benefit from outstanding disaster recovery, business continuity and improved quality of services.
Google Cloud’s is today one of the most energy efficient clouds2 in the industry and aims to operate entirely on carbon free energy 24/7 and everywhere in the world by 2030.
“We have been trustfully partnering with Thales for years to address new connectivity challenges and MNO needs with cloud technology. This future-proof solution provides the market with the required flexibility, security, and resilience to meet consumer’s ‘anytime anywhere’ wish, while also addressing new technological requirements. Adding to Google Cloud services, the security aspect brought by Thales and its remote eSIM management leadership, brings relevance and support to MNOs eSIM strategy.” saidAmol Phadke, General manager, Global Telecom Industry at Google Cloud
28 Feb 23. AALTO HAPS and stc Group, the Saudi digital enabler in the region, sign a Strategic Agreement to bring Stratospheric Connectivity Solutions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
AALTO HAPS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enter a strategic partnership with stc Group, the Saudi digital enabler in the region, to partner on introducing HAPS-based solutions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Stc Group will have access to AALTO’s solutions, when the company rolls out commercial services by the end of 2024. Those solutions will enable stc to expand its geographical coverage to rural and remote areas currently unconnected, improving the service quality. In addition, HAPS solutions can serve to augment coverage during critical events and can be deployed quickly and easily in case of natural disasters.
Samer Halawi, CEO of AALTO HAPS, said: “We are very pleased to count stc Group, the leading digital enabler in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a major player in the region, as one of our pioneering partners looking into HAPS as an efficient, sustainable, and an environmentally friendly new stratospheric layer of connectivity to improve existing service; and add new reach beyond current infrastructure. Not only do our solutions offer a service that saves and improves lives, but they are also eco-friendly and respectful of the future of our planet.”
Motaz Alangari, stc Group Chief Investment Officer, said: “We look forward to working with AALTO. Zephyr has demonstrated a high level of maturity as a HAPS platform, and its innovation and sustainability are aligned with stc’s values and objectives in designing the future”.
Zephyr flies in the stratosphere, above conventional air traffic and provides lowlatency, direct-to-device 4G/5G services, acting as a tower in the sky with the capability to complement terrestrial networks.
27 Feb 23. Rohde & Schwarz Collaborates With Qualcomm and Iridium Communications to Test Snapdragon Satellite.
Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Iridium Communications Inc. and Rohde & Schwarz recently collaborated on testing and validating Snapdragon® Satellite, a solution from Qualcomm Technologies for satellite-based connectivity on next-generation Android smartphones. Manufacturers who want to offer smartphones with truly global coverage can rely on test equipment from Rohde & Schwarz to confirm the full functionality of their products: The R&S CMW100 non-signaling wireless tester is supported by the Qualcomm® Development Acceleration Resource Toolkit (QDART) to verify the Iridium® waveforms in R&D and production testing.
Rohde & Schwarz today announced that its tried-and-tested R&S®CMW100 communications manufacturing test set for non-signaling wireless device testing has been validated by Qualcomm Technologies for QDART to verify Iridium waveforms used for the new Snapdragon® Satellite solution. Rohde & Schwarz is the first to supply test and measurement equipment to support non-signaling R&D and production testing of this new feature. This will help enable the Android ecosystem to reliably offer the satellite-based global emergency and two-way messaging provided by Iridium Communications on next-generation smartphones.
Powered by the Snapdragon® 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform and supported by Iridium, the satellite provider, Snapdragon Satellite will enable smartphones to offer global connectivity and support two-way emergency messaging, SMS texting, and other messaging applications in remote, rural and offshore locations. The smartphone solution utilizes Iridium’s weather-resilient L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink.
The R&S CMW100 communications manufacturing test set is part of the Rohde & Schwarz single-box tester portfolio, which provides universal and efficient test instruments for all modern cellular and non-cellular standards. The flexible R&S CMW100 RF interface permits simultaneous testing of up to eight devices. It has a continuous frequency range up to 6 GHz and RF bandwidth up to 160 MHz. A wide range of methods that reduce test times and maximize capacity utilization are implemented in the test platform for high measurement performance and accuracy.
For advanced wireless technologies, Rohde & Schwarz offers the R&S®CMP180 with an enhanced frequency up to 8 GHz and bandwidth up to 500 MHz. Double the number of analyzers (2xVSA), generators (2xVSG) and RF ports (2×8) enable even more simultaneous measurements of technologies and devices in a VSA/VSG single-box tester. Both instruments are validated by Qualcomm Technologies for QDART, making them a future-proof investment for OEMs.
Christoph Pointner, Senior Vice President Mobile Radio Testers at Rohde & Schwarz, said: “We are honored to be first in line to support Qualcomm Technologies and Iridium Communications in their joint efforts to bring connectivity from pole to pole to the Android ecosystem. Our R&S CMW100 is a tried-and-tested solution for receiver and transmitter tests of cellular and non-cellular technologies on all wireless devices. Being validated for QDART for Iridium waveforms means that OEMs can be confident that our test solution is ready to fulfil their testing needs, whether in the lab or on the production line.”
Francesco Grilli, Vice President of Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said: “We’ve been close partners with Rohde & Schwartz for years and are delighted to continue leveraging their technology for testing purposes on such an important capability within our Snapdragon mobile platform.”
Joel Thompson, Head of Product, Iridium Communications, said: “Rohde & Schwarz is a great partner for the various test regimes used for Snapdragon Satellite. The R&S CMW100 and its high measurement performance and limited test time have been a strong asset in launching this capability with Qualcomm Technologies.”
At Mobile World Congress 2023, Rohde & Schwarz is showcasing in hall 5, booth 5A80 of Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, a setup featuring a radio communications tester performing Iridium waveform verification in line with QDART for a Snapdragon® 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform.
(Source: ASD Network)
24 Feb 23. Better cloud technology to be adapted to F-35s by Lockheed Martin. The US Airforce is keen to operate more seamlessly by contracting Lockheed Martin to research and develop a more advanced generation IT infrastructure based on cloud technology for its F-35 fighters.
The F-35 Lightening II is the most sustainable tactical aircraft out there according to Lockheed Martin, but the US Department of Defense (DoD) wants to optimise its fleet sustainment and readiness performance even further.
On 23 February, the DoD awarded F-35 designer and manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, a $32.5m contract modification against a previous order for a fleet of the stealth aircracft.
This modification adds scope to design, develop, and establish the F-35 NextGen Open Mission services. Lockheed will encompass the usage of modern cloud-based technologies and modern software methodologies for the Joint Strike Fighter programme.
Cloud-based technologies are increasingly being invested in and are beginning to play an integral part of the defence industry. The concept of a shared IT infrastructure provides flexibility, resource-efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
GlobalData states that cloud allows sensors, services and agencies to interconnect, giving forces the necessary superiority to overwhelm enemies that lag behind in such force multipliers.
Lockheed’s logistic failures
Lockheed Martin had initially adapted its Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) to its first rollout of F-35s. However, this logistics system – which had been intended to monitor all aspects of the F-35 maintenance and the fleet at large – demonstrated problems of inaccurate or missing data according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2020.
ALIS’s successor system, the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), was introduced in 2021. ODIN has since proven to be vast improvement. The Joint Strike Fighter programme website tells us ODIN’s properties.
“ODIN will be a cloud-native system that incorporates a new integrated data environment and a new suite of user-centered applications; it will be a significant step forward to improve F-35 fleet’s sustainment and readiness performance”. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
28 Feb 23. Thales hosts first workshop for EU’s 5G COMPAD project. Participants included seven European MoD representatives and 20 partner representatives. Thales has announced the successful completion of the first workshop related to the European Commission’s 5G Communications for Peacekeeping and Defence (5G COMPAD) project. The three-year project is funded by ten European governments under the 2021 European Defence Fund (EDF) initiative.
It aims to showcase the use of 5G mobile communications technology to maintain information sharing superiority among the European defence forces by providing cost-efficient, multi-dimensional communication platforms, with better functionality.
The workshop was hosted by Thales at its facility in Paris, France. It saw the participation of approximately 80 people from across 12 nations.
Among the participants were the 5G COMPAD consortium of various industry partners, representatives from nearly seven European Ministries of Defence (MoD), and 20 representatives from project consortium partners.
The consortium includes Rheinmetall, Thales, Saab, CAFA Tech, Nokia, Bittium, Leonardo, Eightbells, Ericsson, Inster, Austrian Institute of Technology, Synkzone, Telenor, Intracom Defence, SINTEF, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, Bonn Hungary Electronics, and APR Technologies.
The two-day event allowed all the participating members to discuss, review, and agree on the proposed use cases that can be developed as part of the 5G COMPAD project.
The initial discussions for this project are expected to help prepare for the successful implementation of the project and its design solutions to meet the existing and emerging operational requirements of 5G COMPAD.
The workshop saw representatives from the MoDs of France, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and Spain present their requirements in terms of associated systems, expected benefits and challenges, under the project use cases.
The representatives also talked about the use of 5G military communication systems in multi-domain operations.
All discussions around the exact scope of 5G COMPAD consolidated use cases, use case demonstrations, and associated locations are scheduled to be finalised later this year.(Source: army-technology.com)
28 Feb 23. Ongoing threat of multi-stage cyber attacks will sustain risk of customer data breaches for technology sector. On 27 February, the password management tool LastPass released a security alert regarding two data breaches it faced in August and December 2022. The alert states that unknown threat actors initiated an initial reconnaissance in August 2022 to steal sensitive internal and customer information to conduct the second breach. In the second breach, the threat actors also targeted senior DevOps engineers with a remote code execution vulnerability to steal their passwords for the secure databases, in conjunction with the stolen information from the first attack. The threat actors then accessed a sensitive corporate vault containing encrypted secure notes with access and decryption keys for LastPass production backups, other cloud-based storage resources in AWS and critical database backups. There is a realistic possibility that the information could be used to target specific LastPass clients, as many businesses in different industries use the password management tool. Alternatively, it is also a realistic possibility that the multi-stage campaign was corporate espionage and a competitor will use the internal information to develop their own products. There is an increased risk posed to technology companies that store sensitive customer data being targeted in possible supply chain attacks. (Source: Sibylline)
28 Feb 23. US: Ransomware will continue posing credible threat to government sector for foreseeable future. On 27 February, the US Marshals Service (USMS) announced that they are investigating the theft of sensitive law enforcement information following a ransomware attack that occurred on 17 February. The attack targeted a system that contained sensitive information including returns from legal process, administrative information, as well as personally identifiable information pertaining to subjects of USMS investigations, third parties, and certain USMS employees. The USMS stated that the threat actors did not access the USMS’ witness protection programme. They did not state what ransomware group was behind the attack and stated that the affected system is disconnected from the rest of the network and remediation processes are underway. This ransomware attack follows the US Department of Defense leaking sensitive information online due to a misconfigured database. This highlights the elevated security and operational risks which will remain for the government sector for the foreseeable future, particularly given how profitable sensitive data relating to national security and critical infrastructure is for threat actors. (Source: Sibylline)
28 Feb 23. Thales launches world’s first GSMA certified iSIM (Integrated SIM) with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon Mobile Platform.
- The launch of the world’s first security certified iSIM by the GSMA (global association for the mobile communications industry) by Thales and Qualcomm will enable smartphones to offer a space-saving approach for flexible – remotely updatable – mobile connectivity.
- The integrated SIM form factor is highly attractive to device makers looking to create compact and cost-efficient smartphones, as well as other connected devices such as tablets and wearables.
- Global iSIM shipments predicted to reach 300 m by 2027 and intended to complement SIM & eSIM market offer.
Leading industry innovators, Thales and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., announce the certification of the world’s first commercially deployable iSIM (Integrated SIM) on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform, enabling the functionality of a SIM within a smartphone’s main processor. Such GSMA’s security certification2 confirms the iSIM supports the same high standards of cyber-protection and flexible ‘anytime anywhere’ connectivity offered by the latest generation of embedded SIMs (eSIMs).
The new iSIM can now offer device makers further opportunities to save space, reduce build and supply chain costs while maintaining best-in-class security level.
Just like Thales’ eSIM, the new iSIM is fully compliant with the GSMA Remote SIM Provisioning standard; meaning its subscriptions are remotely manageable through any standard platforms.
The emerging iSIM form factor complements existing SIM and eSIM designs, and research suggests the market share to grow to 300 m by 2027, representing 19% of all eSIM shipments, according to Kaleido Intelligence.
Guillaume Lafaix, Vice President Embedded Products at Thales Mobile and Connectivity Solutions said: “The world’s first security certification of an iSIM by the GSMA follows several years of intense development work by Qualcomm Technologies and Thales. Alongside the increasingly popular eSIM, the Thales 5G iSIM gives device makers and mobile operators even greater freedom to offer their customers effortless over-the-air connectivity, and more exciting and accessible product designs.”
“We are very pleased to see our investment in high assurance processor hardware security, in collaboration with Thales, achieving the security and functional bar required by the GSMA for Remote Provisioning UICC use case. We believe a Tamper Resistant Element integrated within the host processor can efficiently enable innovative use cases across many markets and product segments,” saidZiad Asghar, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Alex Sinclair, GSMA Chief Technology Officer adds, “The GSMA is committed to promoting a ‘security-first’ culture across the entire mobile ecosystem to ensure the benefits of mobile connectivity can be enjoyed safely by all. The GSMA eUICC Security Assurance scheme ensures that eSIM products, whether integrated or discrete, have the highest possible level of security resilience. In addition, we are delighted that our processes enable faster time to market for manufacturers and allows new type of products like the integrated SIM to emerge. iSIM increases the opportunity to proliferate cellular capability and satisfies a wider and more diverse market.”
27 Feb 23. APAC: High target value of intellectual property sustains elevated risk posed to research community. On 23 February, Symantec researchers released a report about a new threat actor, ‘Clasiopa’, that uses a distinct toolset in attacks directed towards materials research organisations in Asia. The initial infection vector is still unknown, although some evidence suggests that they obtain access through brute-force attacks on public-facing servers. The threat actor will attempt to disable endpoint detection and response software (EDR) and use a mix of legitimate software packages including HCL Domino, Agile DGS and FD servers, and a custom remote access trojan (RAT) called ‘Atharvan’. It is unclear where the threat group is based or its motivations, as some of the codebase suggests there is a realistic possibility it is based in India, however, it could be a false flag to prevent attribution. Research organisations and their intellectual property are attractive targets for corporate espionage due to financial competition, as well as countries such as China, seeking to bolster their own research institutes and industries to compete with the wider global community. This will sustain security, operational and reputational risks to research organisations for the medium to long term. (Source: Sibylline)
27 Feb 23. Continued malware targeting of government organisations increases security and operational risks to government sector. On 23 February, researchers from Menlo Labs reported on an unknown threat actor targeting government customers based in the APAC and North America regions with downloader malware, ‘PureCrypter’, to install further information stealers and ransomware onto networks. The threat actor compromised a NGO website to host additional malicious payloads as part of the campaign. PureCrypter delivered several types of malware including Redline Stealer, AgentTesla, Eternity, Blackmoon and Philadelphia Ransomware in this campaign. It is currently unclear why the threat actor is targeting government entities. Regardless, malware infection of government entities, particularly ransomware and info-stealers, poses widespread security and operational risks, especially if the organisation infected has a role in critical national infrastructure or national security. The elevated threat posed to government entities by downloader malware will continue for the foreseeable future. (Source: Sibylline)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.