BAE Systems last week scored a $8.5m (£4.3m) contract with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, to develop an "intrinsically secure" mobile network for military use in planes, ground vehicles, sensor systems — mobile and stationary — and handheld devices.
The effort will focus on increasing the security of "manets" (mobile ad-hoc networks), where the devices, as well as the routing infrastructure, are mobile — meaning the configuration of the network changes constantly.
Such networks are particularly susceptible to attack by adversaries, according to BAE Systems.
BAE systems will aim to protect the network by building in security services at the root of the networking stack, rather than as add-ons to the internet, according to Brian DeCleene, BAE Systems' director of advanced networking, and will use recent advances in identity-based encryption, network coding and dynamic access control, he said.
It is hoped the project — called "Iamanet" (intrinsically assurable mobile ad-hoc networking) — will safeguard the network against traditional attacks such as protocol exploits, denial of service, data loss and worms.
"Cybersecurity presents a major operational challenge, precisely when our services are becoming increasingly dependent on seamless access to tactical information," Nils Sandell, vice president and general manager of advanced information technologies for BAE Systems, said in a statement.
BAE Systems will lead a research team consisting of the California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts, Stanford University, the University of Texas and Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs.
The first phase of the effort — developing applications, infrastructure and necessary application programming interfaces (APIs) for the network — will be completed by mid 2009. A secondary defence sub-system will be built in a second phase.