Is Your Two-Way Radio System Safe from Cyber Attacks?

All too often, you hear news reports about ransomware and cyberattacks that put the security of systems and information at serious risk.  It’s becoming more and more clear that no network or system is 100% immune from this malicious activity.  Organizations are taking notice, and more is being invested in system security.  Those managing land mobile radio (LMR) systems need to do the same.

In 2018, Motorola Solutions surveyed over one hundred LMR System Managers around the world and across various sectors, all in an effort to find out how confident they were in their radio systems’ current level of security and what steps were being taken to secure them.

The survey showed that 87% of LMR managers had a high degree of confidence in the security of their radio communication systems, with 78% saying that the cybersecurity of their systems was very or extremely important.  However, recognition of the potential threat wasn’t reflected in the action taken.

What Are LMR Managers Doing to Prevent Cyberattacks?

 

In the same survey, 53% of managers reported that they were actively monitoring the security of their communications systems, but less than half (48%) reported having security policies documented. Only 42% reported patching their radio equipment when updated security software was released, and 18% of managers admitted they were doing nothing at all.  Known vulnerabilities were left unaddressed, systems were going unmonitored, and the security of their communications network was effectively left to chance.

Those managing systems related to communications networks fell more or less in line with the trend described above.  Only 56% of dispatch system managers reported actively monitoring their networks.  53% reported having policies and practices documented.

Only 47% said that they were regularly updating their security software.  Put another way, 53% of these managers had systems with known security flaws that went unaddressed.  And remember Motorola’s survey examined private and public sector communication systems, including those used by public safety agencies.  What’s more, only 11% of those who responded to the survey saw any change in their security plans coming in the year ahead.  Establishing such a plan was reported as the lowest priority item for most.

While other priorities like radio system repair, maintenance and reprogramming are crucial to the operation of your LMR system, protecting it from cyberattacks is, too.  But, if Motorola’s survey can be used as a guide, LMR managers – and organizations as a whole – are largely ignoring it.  The confidence they have in the long-term security of their communications systems may be unearned.

 

So, What Can LMR Managers Do?

While there is no all-encompassing “How-To” guide, there are some pieces of advice that LMR managers should keep in mind:

 

1-      Cybersecurity isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ practice.

 

The constantly evolving, increasingly sophisticated nature of cyberattacks means that LMR managers need plans that adapt and evolve along with them.  Security software needs to remain current, as does knowledge of the potential threats.

 

2-      Have a clearly defined plan.

Motorola’s survey showed that monitoring was the most used security measure by LMR managers.  While crucial, monitoring is insufficient on its own. Consistent security patching and risk assessments are just two of the elements that need to be part of your organization’s long-term security strategy.

 

3-      Use established cybersecurity standards.

This can help LMR managers stay aware of system vulnerabilities and give guidance on how best to detect and address them.

 

Getting Started

 

Tridon can help LMR managers and organizations develop the necessary mindset, practices, and plans when it comes to securing LMR systems.  Updating the firmware and security patches on two-way radios and radio infrastructure is a standard part of our repair procedure. Our technical and client support teams maintain current knowledge of the security measures Motorola Solutions provides to end-users, and our Networks team can offer their insight, experience, and expertise to help build a plan that will safeguard your communications system.

To get that conversation started, Contact Us.


Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA.  Our Engineering, Service and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.

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