British and US military agree secure email protocol

The Ministry of Defence and US defence agencies have agreed specifications for secure e-mail and other electronic collaboration.

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The Ministry of Defence and US defence agencies have agreed specifications for secure e-mail and other electronic collaboration.

The specifications were agreed through the Transglobal Secure Collaboration Programme, a shared effort between British and American defence agencies and aerospace partners.

The TSCP secure e-mail specification is a public-key infrastructure-based technology that assures the identities of authorised users by means of digital certificates that can encrypt and verify e-mail content.

TCSP participants include the US Department of Defence, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), Boeing, EADS, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce.

According to the TSCP, the US Defence Department intends to eventually make use of it to protect information classified under Defence Department guidelines as "Controlled but Unclassified Information." This includes the designations "For Official Use Only" and "Sensitive but Unclassified."

The MoD will begin adoption later this year for classifications that it categorises in as up to "U.K. Restricted."

In a prepared statement, TSCP said the expectation is that prime contractors will also adopt the specification on an ongoing basis across equivalent levels of proprietary information.

"Secure E-mail will become increasingly essential to do business with MoD," John Cook, Information Advisor of the MoD said.

Paul Grant, deputy information sharing executive, Information Sharing Office in the office of the US Defence Department CIO, stated TSCP is "transforming e-mail from one of the most extensively used but least trusted collaboration capabilities to one that can be trusted with sensitive information. This will serve as foundational for sharing 'Controlled Unclassified Information' without mission partners, which certainly includes out suppliers."

Jim Cisneros, deputy CIO, Future Combat Systems at Boeing, and chair of the TSCP, stated that the "most basic collaboration tool is e-mail, but it was never designed for security."

He added that "trusting the authenticity and accuracy of e-mails is imperative for government organisations, prime contractors and our suppliers to jointly develop new technologies and respond to emerging threats."

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