U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command uses hardened FIPS 140-2 Wi-Fi from Aruba, TELOS to connect users to classified, unclassified networks

Posted by Courtney Howard

SUNNYVALE, Calif., 6 Jan. 2010. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has deployed FIPS 140-2 Compliant Aruba wireless LANs--from Aruba Networks Inc., maker of wireless LANs and secure mobility solutions--to provide instant-on, rapidly-deployable Wi-Fi access to classified and unclassified networks.

AFSOC personnel conduct global missions ranging from precision application of firepower, to infiltration, aviation foreign internal defense, exfiltration, resupply, and refueling of SOF operational elements.

The hardened, secure Aruba networks were provided to the AFSOC by Aruba-authorized partner Telos Corp.

"Wireless is the next logical step in providing lighter and more flexible secure tactical communications," says Col. Tony Faughn, director, Communications and Information Directorate, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command.

"Telos is providing AFSOC with hardened, secure Aruba wireless LANs that can be field deployed in varying configurations based on mission length, force structure and communications requirements," notes Dave Logan, Aruba's general manager of federal solutions. "Aruba's resilient, self-healing mesh is ideal for rapid-deployment applications. Working in conjunction with our Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) technology, mesh enables radio signals to reliably hop from access point to access point without any data cabling."

Mesh operation enables Wi-Fi access points to be located and relocated anywhere, quickly and reliably in even the harshest environments, without installing data cabling or making site modifications. ARM automatically compensates for interference, network traffic, and the types of applications run on the network. As a result, data, voice, and video applications have sufficient network resources, including airtime, to operate properly, says a representative.

"The Aruba mesh topology is one of the first end-to-end secure solutions available in the Wi-Fi market today," explains Brendan Malloy, senior vice president and general manager of Telos' Secure Networks Division. "Telos' SWAMP-LITE solution relies on this secure mesh topology to bridge classified and unclassified clients back to the core AFSOC element, and provides customers with a high degree of flexibility to meet their mission requirements."

The FIPS 140-2 standard specifies the cryptographic security requirements for sensitive but unclassified information. The standard defines multiple levels of security that correspond with the wide range of potential applications and environments in which such systems may be employed, says a company representative.

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