Lab for testing security of top-secret wireless systems opens

Lab for testing security of top-secret wireless systems opens
Lab for testing security of top-secret wireless systems opens 

By Kathleen Hickey
Special to GCN

Government defense and intelligence agencies have taken the wraps off a 
lab opened in the first quarter of this year for testing and evaluating 
wireless systems that transmit classified data.

The lab, developed by systems integrator Lockheed Martin, allows the 
agencies to test 802.11 Wi-Fi or broadband satellite links on a 
top-secret/sensitive compartmented information network.

The agencies will be able to test a broad spectrum of wireless networks, 
including Bluetooth, 802.16 WiMax, cell phones, and Ku- and C-band 
satellite communications. The lab is sealed and reinforced to ensure 
that signals from the systems stay within the chamber.

The Wireless Cyber Security Center, based in Hanover, Md., will allow 
agencies to define and evaluate wireless security strategies, policies 
and concepts of operation. The facility also will support projects to 
evaluate next-generation security technologies and assess 
vulnerabilities. Officials can also use the installation to evaluate 
mobile ad-hoc networks, which play an increasing role in battlefield 

Government agencies already are using the lab to conduct vulnerability 
testing, said Lockheed Martin spokesman Mattt Kramer. Results from the 
lab and the processes are secured, and they can potentially be labeled 
top secret, he said.

"We provide an actual classified environment using those technologies.. 
You can simulate it, but it's no substitute for the real thing." Testing 
these technologies over an actual network would potentially expose 
risks, Kramer said.

Wireless networks in use by the government today are not necessarily 
connected to a classified network, said Kramer. Defense and intelligence 
agencies are interested in testing these wireless networks to 
potentially transfer top-secret information over them.

The lab is one of only a handful capable of testing commercial wireless 
cybersecurity, said Kramer.

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