Viasat UK encryption expertise helps protect UK defence data

For years, Viasat has delivered security and information assurance services with a range of secure hard drives for encrypting data at rest to support the UK Ministry of Defence and NATO

Viasat data at rest encryption device
Viasat solid-state drives provide premium endpoint protection to military standards.

Robust cybersecurity is one of the most critical challenges facing the military and security services today. That includes using end-to-end -encryption to secure active communications and deploying technology to protect data living on laptops and other devices.

Viasat UK has been protecting and securing MOD devices and data with its encryption products for over 17 years. These Data at Rest solutions (DAR) are critically important for soldiers in the field as well as leaders, security personnel, and others who want to ensure that sensitive information on their devices remains protected.

Protecting classified and sensitive information is critical in an age of growing global threats, and Viasat has been providing encryption and information assurance products since the 1990s. The shift to hybrid working and the increasing number of connected devices has significantly increased the risk exposure of both individuals and organizations. Each data breach costs an average of over $4 million to manage, the highest it has ever been. On average, breaches cost over $1 million more than that when remote work was indicated as a factor in the event.

But, while security services make economic sense, they’re also critical to protecting the lives of warfighters.

What is ‘data at rest?’

Data at rest refers to information that is stored in one place but isn’t currently being used (data in use) or shared (data in transit). Examples of data at rest include corporate or governmental files, backed-up data storage, USB drive data, and archived files stored on a computer or removable drive. This data is highly vulnerable and a target for hackers, including state-sponsored military attackers who use sophisticated strategies in attempting to access it. If a device is stolen, security services, armies, and other organizations that deal with highly sensitive data must ensure information is protected — or lives could be at risk.

The growing number of mobile devices — such as tablets and laptops — and the shift to flexible working exacerbate the threat. If an attacker gains access to a device, Viasat’s DAR hardware encryption technology protects data from cold boot attacks, key discovery attacks, and brute-force attacks. The sealed units are maintenance-free and are engineered with a tamper-evident design that makes it clear if a device has been compromised.

Viasat’s innovative range of hardware encryption technologies are evaluated by the UK, Canadian and European security services, providing high levels of secure data storage for laptops, tablets, and desktops. As the technology evolves, we plan to offer ever smaller and more powerful answers to the ongoing question of how to keep data secure.

High-security, smaller envelope

Our secure SSDs are simple to operate. Once logged in with the correct credentials and authentication is confirmed, the operating system will boot up granting “normal” access to the computer and data. It’s all meant to provide high security alongside a seamless user experience.

Crucial to the success of the products is their size. In response to customer demand, Viasat has invested in developing storage devices with more capacity and better performance from a smaller envelope.

Over the years, Viasat has worked to significantly reduce the size of SSDs so that they can be installed in a new range of smaller, faster PCs, tablets, and handheld technologies – all without compromising performance or capacity. The announcement in 2021 of the DARC-SSD solution is a good example of this evolution.

Customers can choose from devices in a range of formats, including an internal SATA 2.5 solid state drive, a high-capacity USB 3.0 external drive, and Viasat UK’s newest product coming soon: a small solid-state drive (NVMe M.2) suitable for use in laptops, tablets, and small-bodied PCs that provides up to 1TB of secure storage.

Viasat works closely with some of the world’s biggest device manufacturers when designing new technologies. By using established form factors and interfaces — such as the common M.2 form factor and NVMe interface for SSD devices — our solutions can typically be integrated within existing PCs, laptops, and tablet devices without costly alterations.

The speed and simplicity of integration ensure the drives can get to work as soon as possible and at a far more reasonable cost than a more highly customized solution.

Military-grade protection

Viasat solid-state drives provide premium endpoint protection to military standards. The devices have been designed to meet the exacting needs of an established customer base, including the MOD and NATO.

All models feature military-level 256-bit AES encryption in a tamper-evident design. Security levels are evaluated by the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), CSE in Canada, and NATO SECAN.

Integral to Viasat’s success in providing this equipment to the MOD is that all our hardware is designed and manufactured in the UK. Viasat acquired the Stonewood Group, manufacturers of the industry-standard Eclypt encrypted drives, in 2010. We have continued to invest in innovation, developing new and more advanced data storage devices to respond to the changing demands of security services and armed forces.

Our collaboration to support the UK MOD and defence agencies is key to our success. We are proud to work hand-in-hand with partners and government security leaders to design and build next-generation security hardware. Viasat UK employs many veterans and former security service personnel who bring real-world experience to help us create products for the market that meet and exceed standards.

Viasat’s 256-bit AES hardware encrypted storage products are approved to the highest levels, including our Eclypt family of solutions, which have been evaluated for protection up to Top Secret level. Similar solutions, based on military grade technology, are also available to the private sector, with growing demand from clients in financial services and several other industries that must protect data from domestic and foreign threats and attacks.

Hardware encrypted data storage solutions play a vital role in protecting data at rest, but they’re just one form of defence against increasing threats. Viasat continues to work with our MOD partners and invest in new technologies that will enable security services and armed forces to address the latest threats to our safety.

Gabriel Irving initially joined Viasat UK in 2019 on a University placement from Oxford Brookes. After finishing his business and management degree, he re-joined full-time and supported the UK office across the product and service portfolio.