Is the Network Security of your APX™ P25 Two Way Radio at Risk?

Radio performance isn’t just measured by audio quality anymore, it’s the programming software inside your radio that determines how long your radio will last, and more importantly, how fast you can communicate with your team. For industries that rely on two way radios for mission-critical communications—such as first responders and military personnel—any inefficiencies in radio performance is not an option. You need to be able to rely on your radios to keep up with the challenging work you do in the demanding environments you’re dispatched to. This means a high-level of trust is placed in your radio, that you can just press a button and contact the person you need, when you need them, and know that the sensitive information you’re exchanging is secure to prevent any unauthorized access. The hard truth about APX™ P25 radios is that your network security is only as strong as your last programming software update.

Much like installing updates on your cell phone or computer, your two way radios need routine programming to properly operate and maintain the high-level of network security required in your line of work. For a range of reasons, mostly influenced by budget constraints and lack of technical resources, many organizations take a very reactive approach to radio programming maintenance, waiting until something goes wrong to address an issue. The problem with the “wait and see” approach is an issue that could have been a small, quick fix if caught early, can escalate into a much larger mission-impacting problem.

So how often do I need to program my radios?
With new features rolling out all of the time and programming becoming more complex and time-consuming, it’s no wonder organizations with a large fleet of radios wait until something breaks to perform any kind of radio maintenance. Think of it this way, if one of your radios has a glitch, chances are it’s a software issue that will show up in your entire fleet of radios, even if it happens over time. Doesn’t it make sense to solve the glitch for the entire fleet instead of one-by-one?

The truth is there is no real “magic number” for how often you need to update your radios, but we recommended that you reprogram your radios at least once a year to help get ahead of performance problems that can arise with out-of-date software.

Can I do all of my programming in-house?
While 73% of APX™ P25 radio users manage their fleet in-house, most admit the task of doing so comes with a long list of challenges, leading to the reason why 42% of users only reprogram radios once every few years because of limiting factors like:

• Tight budgets that don’t allow for additional programming maintenance
• Your company doesn’t have the proper programs to update software for an entire fleet of radios, so you’re stuck with updating each radio individually
• Limited technical staff to do these updates and limited time to keep technical skills up-to-date for all of the users

All of these are legitimate challenges for a reactive approach to radio maintenance—“if it ain’t broke”, right? The reactive approach will only take you so far and end up costing you more in downtime, repairs, and labour, all compromising the performance of your entire fleet of radios. Taking proactive measures to either increase the frequency of programming updates or leveraging expert third-party support will help to cut long-term costs, reduce network security risks, and allow your team to focus on their job and not their radio.

When I update my programming that means my information is secure right?
In today’s world where technology is evolving faster than ever before, the security measures you took yesterday may not protect you against tomorrow’s cybersecurity threat. Security maintenance for your radio is comparable to the updates you run on your personal smartphone or tablet. Read the tiny print at the bottom of your next software update notification, more often than not it has a line or two mentioning updates for your network security.

If you’re behind in software updates, this leaves your device open for security risks that cyber hackers are developing technology for to take advantage of those people who don’t ensure their software is up-to-date. So now how sure are you that the information you’re sending over your APX P25 radios is actually secure?

It only takes one radio in your entire fleet to be hacked to compromise the security of your entire network. If you find yourself questioning your radio’s network security then it’s time to put a proactive plan in place to be able to confidently say “yes, my radios are secure“. To break it down, the rule of thumb is to regularly check if there are security updates available and make this part of a proactive routine for radio maintenance.

Learn more
To gain some more insight into radio programming maintenance, download the 2017 Motorola Solutions APX™ Two Way Radio Management Survey. To learn more about how to leverage expert support to help maintain your radios contact Nova Communications today.

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