It was a nightmare scenario: John Smith (name is changed) the director of a mid-size Midwest PSAP (Public-Safety Access Point), got a call in the middle of the night. His IT manager said there was a possible DDoS attack. Workstations and mobile data began to lock up quickly as the attack spread.
John’s first thought: we just invested in a bunch of anti-virus software and bought new, state of the art firewall and hardware solutions. How did this happen?
John’s experience is one faced by PSAP directors around the country and serves as a cautionary tale from a recent article authored by Motorola Solutions: An Introduction to Cybersecurity for the PSAP.
The article argues that too many PSAPs, like John’s, focus solely on software and hardware solutions instead of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. While technology is important, so are well-defined processes and fully trained staff. A thorough understanding and implementation of best practices from standards bodies such as APCO, NENA, CJIS, NIST, and others are also critical.
The article serves a high-level guide to help readers implement an end-to-end cybersecurity solution based on the NIST Cybersecurity framework, including technology, processes, and people.
One of the most important aspects of an end-to-end cyber strategy, according to the article, is getting a handle on its overall scope. PSAPs must define the systems and data to protect, looking at systems such as CAD, reporting, and telecom and especially often overlooked systems such as radio, mobile data applications and devices, access control systems, and IIoT devices. Once the full cybersecurity scope is defined, along with a full understanding of risks and threats, cybersecurity processes can be developed and put into place.
Well-run PSAPs closely adhere to a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Cybersecurity should be no different. A well-constructed SOP ensures smooth operations, especially during times of crisis, while helping to manage risk and liability. The SOPs also form the foundation for an employee training program, creating a written record that ensures everyone is clear on their responsibilities and roles within the cyber strategy.
People are the most important element in any cybersecurity strategy. That’s why it’s so important for all employees, not just the IT department, to understand their roles and be able to carry out their responsibilities according to the cyber SOP. Ongoing employee training and testing as well as continuously refreshed risk assessments are critical pieces of the SOP and integral to a successful cybersecurity strategy.
NIST Security Framework
Fortunately, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) designed a framework to help agencies create cybersecurity strategies. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework defines the technologies, processes, and people necessary to create a PSAP SOP and provides guidance on five key areas: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.
For PSAP Director John Smith, and other men and women throughout the country facing the same challenges, a detailed and complete end-to-end cybersecurity solution based on the NIST Framework is the best defense against cyber threats. By integrating technology with processes and people, PSAPs can take a proactive approach to cyber security and will never have to wonder how a devastating breach could have threatened their operations.
Read the full article, An Introduction to Cybersecurity for the PSAP.
Marilyn Barrios is the Senior Cybersecurity Training Specialist at Motorola Solutions.
A seamless, reliable network is essential to business- and mission-critical communications. From public safety and the military to transportation and logistics, organizations around the world rely on land mobile radio (LMR) systems as their go-to communications network.
Since the 1930s and the early days of simple analog two-way radios, LMR technology has undergone a massive transformation. Today’s LMR systems are software-defined and IP-based to meet users’ evolving need. And like all IT-based systems, whether shared or used by a single entity, they are not immune to cyberattacks.
As a result, how they are maintained and supported requires a new breed of resources and expertise. System operators must be knowledgeable not only about the equipment but also about the IP- and software-centric network components to ensure communication is secure and available 24x7x365.
How you manage your LMR system is vital to maximizing uptime and limiting disruptions. Around the world, users are tackling this challenge in a variety of ways—from regular system updates and continuous network monitoring to proactive cybersecurity strategies and system performance trends and analysis.
To gain a clearer picture of the measures that system operators are applying to their networks, Motorola Solutions is conducting an LMR system management survey.
Our research report will provide insights into several compelling areas:
- Support and maintenance services that your peers are using to support their LMR systems
- Cybersecurity measures being taken to address and respond to threats
- Best practices for minimizing network downtime and improving system performance
- Future system management priorities
LMR systems operators and customers are invited to share their experiences and insights in our inaugural survey. The results will be used to help stakeholders and individuals responsible for ensuring system uptime improve their performance by learning from one another and gaining insights into the best ways to tackle the challenges of this complex communications environment.
Click here to get started. For every survey completed, Motorola Solutions will donate $5 USD to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) or International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). (Total donations will be capped at $2,500 USD.). Once our study is complete, we will be happy to share the results with you.
Graeme Casey is the Astro 25 Systems Services Offer Manager at Motorola Solutions.
If you’re maintaining a few hundred APX two-way radios, or thousands, keeping all of them working properly is not an easy task. It takes special coordination, time and expertise.
To help us better understand customer radio management decision-making, we surveyed our APX radio users across the U.S. and highlighted the findings in the 2017 Motorola Solutions APX Two-Way Radio Management Survey.
What did we find? Radio managers of both small and large fleets face similar challenges. Budgets constraints, lack of technical resources and programming complexities are challenges for both in-house and third-party radio management. However, forward-looking agencies of all sizes are realizing the benefits of leveraging services to assist their in-house technical staff or to provide expert resources to manage their radio fleets.
Top 3 Benefits of Using Radio Services:
1. Services Provide Technical Expertise for In-house Personnel
Survey respondents indicated 73% manage radios with in-house personnel. However, radio managers are challenged with having to juggle all the duties—and additional responsibilities—that come with the job. Typically, the technical staff tasked with the job is a small team relative to the amount of work. They must keep up with needed technical skills, understand how to optimize the latest radio features, and keep track of constant talk group changes as employees and even their own team members come and go.
Services provide expert help to support your in-house technical staff. You can get access to technical experts who are using state-of-the-art diagnostics equipment and repair tools to troubleshoot problems and properly restore your two-way radios. Our experts function as an extension of your in-house technical team, or as a source for all technical support. Flexible service options are designed to support your needs and budget requirements.
2. Services Reduce Programming Time and Accelerate Deployment
Radio managers are constantly faced with increasing programming demands that involve physically touching each radio to complete updates. With hundreds or thousands of radios, programming can take weeks or even months to update—and may be outdated by the time all changes are made. This is a time consuming, costly and inefficient use of resources for the 58% of survey respondents that reprogram their radio fleet once or more every year.
Services can support your existing radio management staff. This includes a dynamically different way to speed up radio programming by as much as 90%. Imagine...making template changes that are done all at once, eliminating the need to handle each radio one-at-a-time. And, storing radio changes online to ensure your data is backed up. You no longer need multiple spreadsheets to keep track of changes. No more worries about lost data.
Your radio management team will be thoroughly trained to become expert radio programmers that spend only 10% of the time they formally spent on reprogramming.
3. Services Prevent Radio Downtime
To prevent downtime and ensure small issues don’t grow into larger problems, you should have a proactive maintenance schedule for your radio fleet. We were surprised to discover over 70% of survey respondents only perform radio hardware maintenance on an as-needed basis. This may mean something breaks, and then they fix it.
Preventive maintenance ensures your radios are functioning properly. If you don’t have the proper radio staff or tools, you can have expert professionals manage your the entire radio fleet to transfer responsibility and risk. Managed services professionals provide radio maintenance, repair, programming, technical support and more—so you can rest assured your radios are available at all times.
Services Increase Performance, Lower Risk and Achieve Better Outcomes
2017 Motorola Solutions APX Two-Way Radio Management Survey found clear interest in using services to successfully manage two-way radios. And for good reason. Services improve radio reliability while reducing the cost and time of managing radios.
Want to learn more about the benefits of two-way radio services?
Look: View this video to see how expert services help increase radio performance.
Listen: Prerecorded webinar provides a transformational case study on how to reduce programming time and accelerate deployment of your radios.
Learn: Read this paper to learn how you can implement a two-way radio plan to increase uptime, and control costs.
Nupur Thakur is Senior Director of Services Offer Management at Motorola Solutions.
A recent Center for Digital Government Survey noted that 66% of state and local government decision-makers are turning to big data analytics for more-informed decision-making. For mission-critical operations, big data analytics is equipping network managers with the intelligence and foresight needed to decrease downtime and enhance the performance of public safety, communication networks. You can apply the same analytics to improve the performance of your land mobile radios (LMR) system.
Extracting and Applying Network Intelligence
Data correlation, trend analysis and statistical modeling of historical and real-time data shed light on LMR system performance issues stemming from your infrastructure, devices and external factors. As your data analytics capabilities improve, you will gain insights that can help you improve your system uptime and performance. Benefits include more efficiently resolving the root cause of critical network alarms, optimizing device performance and preventing system outages.
Big Data Analytics for Improving Backhaul Management
Using trends analysis and statistical modeling, our network performance management team recently identified that a customer radio site went down every time it rained. A root-cause analysis revealed most of the outages were backhaul-related. Because the issue could not be resolved remotely, we scheduled an onsite inspection. Our field team discovered that the pedestal supplying power to the backhaul was in a low-lying area. Power loss occurred every time it flooded from rain or snowmelt. Big data analytics helped us pinpoint the source and the weather patterns that triggered the outages. As a result, our field team knew what to look for look for when they arrived at the radio site. We resolved the issue by establishing a redundant backhaul and diversifying the site’s backhaul configuration. With the root cause identified and addressed, the customer can now expect to see improved network uptime and system performance during the next storm season.
Read more about how we are improving our customers’ LMR systems with big data analytics in our Network Performance Management Whitepaper.
Rushil Ramachandran is Network Performance Manager at Motorola Solutions.
If you’re operating a mission-critical network with hundreds to thousands of APX radios, you already know that device management is an arduous undertaking. With all the maintenance, programming and changes you make, it still doesn’t guarantee you’ll maximize performance. How can you ensure your devices operate effectively and that every critical call gets through?
If you don’t have the time and resources to adequately support your mission-critical devices, you should seek experienced resources that can help. You can now enlist device management experts at Motorola Solutions who can expedite programming, ensure correct connectivity, help you take advantage of all the applications available to you, and provide the right hardware and software support needed.
Top Three Reasons To Seek Expert Device Management Services:
If minimizing downtime, increasing operational readiness and lowering your costs related to managing your two-way radio fleet sounds appealing, discover how we can help you today with APX Services.
We also held a webinar on Improving Device Management that expands further on how you can take action to improve your land mobile radio performance.
Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services.
Though built for resiliency, land mobile radio (LMR) systems are not exempt from faults. And, with weather getting more unpredictable and extreme throughout the U.S., critical network events can multiply during catastrophes. Mission-critical operations require having a disaster management plan to ensure network uptime.
Plan for the unpredictable. Most cities, states and countries have emergency management plans. Become familiar with the plans outlined for varying degrees of emergencies and how your network operations team should function in these situations. Your plans should include specific procedures for redundancies, provisioning, onsite support, power supply failures, spare parts management and much more. Catastrophes happen with and without notice. Having a set plan, and more importantly, conducting periodic drills based on that plan, makes you better prepared for either situation.
Assess your overall system management. Outages can put public safety at risk. Do you have all the necessary skills required to plan, operate and optimize your system performance? Leveraging a strategy that augments your operations with the right mission-critical expertise can help you maximize your technology investment, improve resiliency and ensure proper redundancies exist for the best coverage and connectivity in any situation.
Preparing for network issues as they arise is imperative to public safety ground operations during catastrophes. Read more about how our managed services team ensures communication among first responders in South Carolina during the 1000-year flood in our Mission-Critical Disaster Management Use Case.
Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services.