Vendors Offer Upgrade Options for P25 Encryption
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | Comments

Several manufacturers have taken steps to come into compliance with a Project 25 (P25) Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) encryption requirements compliance assessment bulletin (CAB) finalized in March. The CAB aims to stop the practice of manufacturers providing subscriber units with a non-P25 standard encryption without also including P25 standard Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 encryption.

Vendors supplied the following information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

EF Johnson Technologies implemented internal ordering and fulfillment procedures for all radios to be compliant with the DHS guidelines listed in the P25 CAP Encryption Requirements CAB. Customers who order P25 CAP-compliant radios will receive the radios unencrypted (all encryption disabled) or with AES encryption enabled. AES is an option and is sold separately. Any customer that previously purchased EF Johnson TK30 series P25 radios under the original guidelines that included nonrecognized encryption, such as digital encryption standard (DES), must purchase the AES option to become compliant under the new CAB.

Harris is adding single-key AES encryption to its product basket. Single-key AES operation will automatically be bundled with the company’s low-tier simple encryption package. With this update, Harris radios will be available completely unencrypted, with free simple encryption including single-key AES encryption or with full multikey AES/DES encryption. Therefore, radios with any encryption will always have the AES-256 algorithm included.

Harris has already started developing the single-key AES feature. Field trials of single-key AES operation are scheduled to begin soon with the expectation that Harris will provide single-key AES operation to customers this year. Harris plans to offer a free software upgrade that will include single-key AES encryption to users who have already taken delivery of radios with nonstandard ARC4 encryption. This software upgrade will be offered when the full release of the new single-key AES encryption code is available.

New customers ordering P25 CAP-compliant radios from JVCKENWOOD must ensure that they order radios either with no encryption or with the AES encryption option. This information is provided in the JVCKENWOOD price pages. To ensure that customers’ fielded radios meet the DHS grant requirements for encryption, they must purchase the AES option for encryption use.

Motorola Solutions made P25 CAP-compliant radios available with no encryption or with the AES encryption option. Customers who previously purchased ASTRO APX radios can upgrade their current radios with no encryption capability or with encryption other than AES 256 to add AES 256. The customer would order a T7936 upgrade kit, which includes one CD and one subscriber upgrade manual, along with the quantity of AES software upgrades that corresponds to the number of radio units the customer wants to upgrade. This kit would then be sent to the customer to load the software into the individual radios in the field via connection to a PC and a Motorola KVL unit. The APX 1000 and APX 1500 do not have the ability to ship with encryption software and are not upgradeable.

Customers with XTL/XTS 5000 and XTL 2500 subscribers with MACE UCMs and with firmware version R07.xx.xx or higher can upgrade their subscribers. The XTS2500, 2000, 1500 or the XTL1500 do not have the capability to be upgraded in the field. If the customer does not have a KVL unit, the Motorola Solutions sales team can help order one.

To ensure that customers are informed that AES 256 encryption is required for P25 CAP compliance for encrypted communications, Motorola Solutions’ internal ordering information used by all the sales employees and Motorola online system ordering information will clearly state that AES 256 encryption is required for P25-compliant encrypted communications.

BK Technologies has taken steps to bring the KNG series mobile and portable subscriber products into full compliance with the P25 CAP’s requirements for encryption. With firmware release 5.5.8 and later, 256-bit AES encryption is now provided for all KNG subscriber models that have been listed as approved equipment. Firmware release 5.5.8 is currently available.

Existing customers that have KNG series subscriber radios that are not in compliance with the P25 CAB encryption requirements can contact BK Technologies to obtain firmware update release 5.5.8 at no cost. Upon installation of the new firmware, the radio will support AES 256 encryption and be in full compliance with the March encryption CAB.

The March encryption CAB and other recent CAP documents are here. A list of P25 CAP complaint subscriber products can be found here.

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