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Off-air testing wards off the cyber threat

(13 July 2018 - GateHouse Telecom) In the digital age of today, new technologies are continuously developed. But new applications are vulnerable to the increasing threat from cyber-attacks and interception – especially when being tested on a live satellite network.

Data transferred over an unprotected link can be intercepted, which is increasingly exploited by hackers. The number of cyber-attacks doubled in 2017, which led the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) to name last year as “the worst year ever in data breaches and cyber-incidents around the world.”

According to the OTA, 93% of all breaches could have been prevented if companies set up a response plan and implemented strong data stewardship, including risk reduction measures. According to Danish satcom-company, GateHouse Telecom, testing of new applications are a serious blind spot in terms of cyber security.

“You can significantly lower the risk of cyber-attacks if you use off-air testing when assessing new applications. Some already use off-air testing to assess satellite terminals whenever they want, in a closed and secure environment before deployment in the field. In particular, developers handling sensitive information such as payment or military applications are experiencing the necessity of a safe and unrestricted testing environment,” Thomas S. Jensen, director of GateHouse Telecom, said.

Encryption: Secures Data, but Affects Performance

In the US, cyber-crime is the fastest growing crime and is set to cost the global economy $6 trillion annually by 2021 in damages, according to a report by the Herjavec Group. Europe is also heavily affected and a third of European businesses have experienced data theft, figures from EfficientIP show.

“The increase in cyber-crimes calls for resilient technologies that reduce risks and prevent cyber-attacks on solutions and new applications. Here, off-air testing is a preventive measure that cuts short hackers and helps secure new applications,” Thomas S. Jensen said.

Many companies use encryption to secure confidentiality of the transferred data. Encryption can be done in many ways, and applies to the data transferred as well as meta data, such as the time and place of the data transfer. But encryption can affect solution performance and needs to be tested using either on-air testing or off-air testing.

“To find out how much encryption affects performance, you need to test the application under all kinds of conditions that you cannot control when using on-air testing. With off-air solution testing, you can emulate all the conditions that your application might be exposed to - for instance the impact weatherfade has on an encrypted data transfer,” Thomas S. Jensen explained.

Take Back Control with Off-Air SatCom Testing

GateHouse Telecom’s off-air test tools all emulate a real satellite connection and can be used at any time in a lab for application development and test.

Emulation of the satellite link gives you full control of test conditions and allows developers to expose the application to circumstances set up prior to the test. In that way, retailers can also demonstrate solutions’ performance at trade shows and other indoor sales situations.

“With off-air testing you can take back control of conditions and imitate any given circumstance for instance poor network conditions such as weather fades and congestion. And you can do it in a safe environment with no risk of external exposure or attacks,” Thomas S. Jensen said.

The GateHouse Telecom test suite currently spans tools developed for precise emulation of the Inmarsat BGAN and Global Xpress networks.

About GateHouse Telecom A/S

GateHouse Telecom is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GateHouse Holding Group that also holds the subsidiaries, GateHouse Logistics and GateHouse Maritime. For more than a decade, GateHouse Telecom has provided the satellite communications industry with a range of market-leading software products for commercial, government and military use. With deep knowledge and understanding of global communications infrastructures and platforms, GateHouse Telecom also offers consultancy services for software, hardware and system integration as well as for the preparation and evaluation of international tenders.