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Mikey what? Keeping voice calls secure

By Steve Norris, Managing Partner and O2 public sector champion – Criminal Justice and Emergency Services

We’re all aware of the ever-present risk of cyber and security threats. We’re reminded of these as consumers on a daily basis with the need to remember login passwords for our online bank accounts, payment systems and various other secure content. We’re constantly on the alert for risks.

The threat of cyber-attacks is heightened in the business world – for example, small businesses are encouraged to change router passwords from the standard ones issued when they are purchased. This is a ‘common sense’ action that guards businesses from potential hacking threats.

There are lots of steps we can take to protect ourselves when sharing information online, with passwords and data encryption as a huge part of this security. However, when it comes to making voice communications secure, there are limited commercial options available.

So how do organisations keep their voice calls secure?

Public sector entities such as Police and Central departments have used encrypted Brent phones for secure communications. These are fixed lines based on ISDN technology which are great if you are office based. However, when you are halfway round the world, trying to find a Brent phone to make a secure call is not always easy. In one case we know of, an individual had to make a 2000 mile round -rip flight to the nearest Brent phone in his company just to make a 10 minute call!

So what do we do in a world where everyone’s lives and work are mobile?

Government Communications HQ have developed an algorithm called Mikey Sakke, which is an open standard for companies to use. Using this algorithm O2 have developed a capability in partnership with Finmeccanica which enables secure encrypted calls on a mobile device, which is capable of stepping up and down the encrypted levels (e.g. from Official to Official Sensitive and then back to Official). The benefit of adopting this for mobile devices is obvious given the importance of mobility to any organisation.

This builds on O2’s security credentials with our CAS(T) approved mobile network, which is still the only one of its kind in the UK and offers an extra  level of reassurance.

I believe this is a unique proposition that enables encrypted mobile communications to the same level as its fixed counterpart. In a world where cyber security risks are becoming ever more prevalent, it’s essential that voice communications are not only mobile, but safe and secure.

If you would like to know more about this please contact me directly on 07802 280 287, or visit our website for more information.

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