Companies Work with MCOP to Test End-to-End Encrypted MCPTT Calls
Thursday, November 21, 2019 | Comments

Bittium, Athonet, Nemergent and the Mission Critical Open Platform (MCOP) project tested multivendor end-to-end ciphered mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) calls. The test took place during the fourth MCX Plugtests organized by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in Kuopio, Finland, in September.

The Plugtests series is the first independent testing of public-safety and other mission-critical Long Term Evolution (LTE), and the tests are essential to ensure seamless access to mission-critical services over 4G networks across different vendors’ products and implementation. The tests also provide essential feedback to Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) working groups on mission-critical communication specifications, a statement said.

The test for end-to-end multivendor secured MCPTT calls over mission-critical-grade LTE included MCOP’s subscriber identity module (SIM)-based authentication, setting up security associations using IPsec between Bittium Tough Mobile 2 as the user equipment and Athonet’s IP multimedia system (IMS) core, as well as Nemergent’s MCPTT standardized key exchange, authentication, service authorization and ciphering mechanisms. To have a fully end-to-end secure solution, the different vendors demonstrated interoperability at all the nodes involved in the communications chain and at the different 3GPP-defined message exchange protocols.

“This is a great achievement considering the whole mission-critical communications community, and we are proud to have been part of the test with our secure Bittium Tough Mobile 2 smartphone,” said Jari Sankala, senior vice president, defense and security at Bittium. “It is good to see that cybersecurity issues are gaining more and more importance also in the public-safety area.”

By using fully 3GPP Release 14/15 compliant mechanisms, the MCX user initially exchanged keying information and certificates with the key management system (KMS). Then, the client logged in and retrieved an access token from the IMS to later obtain fully secure authenticated access to the MCX application server (AS). The MIKEY-SAKKE protocol allowed proper sharing of keying information between the participants in the call to secure both MCX-specific signaling and voice communications.

The test is a milestone that once again demonstrates the maturity of the MCX solutions and shows that customers already have access to fully secure MCX solutions. Secure multivendor communications are one of the keystones in open standards, enabling mission-critical communications over private and public networks, the companies said.

“Once again the use of open APIs (application programming interface) has been proven as the best way to foster the deployment of pioneer standardized multivendor mission-critical communications ecosystems,” Fidel Liberal, PhD, MCOP coordinator said.

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