On Distributed Communications Series

IX. Security, Secrecy, and Tamper-Free Considerations

I. Introduction

Historically, military communications networks have been based on techniques and practices originated to meet civilian needs. And, although the military security environment is more demanding, as a practical matter there have always been technological limitations forcing the erection of "make do" patchworks for its communications systems. Starting with an essentially civilian-based system, a little is added here and a little there until we convince ourselves that the remaining security shortcomings are due to either technological or to economic lags in the state-of-the-art.

The last few years have witnessed major breakthrough upon major breakthrough in the digital computer technology. In light thereof, it is now pertinent to reconsider the ways in which we would like to build communications Systems, taking advantage of these new developments.

An entire Memorandum in this series is being devoted to the problem of security alone because of its underlying importance both to the system and in the large, and due to a relative underdevelopment of the subject in general. For example, Bloom, Mayfield, and Williams in a survey on the problems of military communications report that Army officers most often cite security as their primary communications problem.[1]

In the proposed system synthesis, the constraints of existing practices have been purposely avoided in order to better consider an entire system from scratch. First considered are the military requirements, following which the discussion moves toward a hardware synthesis making use of this new era's rapidly advancing computer technology.

However, before discussing the proposed direction of solution, it is desirable to digress and touch upon a subject rarely seen in the unclassified literature, but one that must be understood in order to fully appreciate what is being proposed: the problem of the Secrecy about Secrecy.

[1] Bloom, Joel S., Clifton E. Mayfield, and Richard M. Williams, Modern Army Communications, Final Report, The Franklin Institute Laboratories for Research and Development, Philadelphia, January 1962, p. 32.

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