Cybersecurity, Emergency Preparedness, Emerging Issues in Security

NIST Releases Draft Analysis of First Responder Mobile Device Security

Technology has always played an important role in the day-to-day duties of first responders, and now even more so, with the growing adoption of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The network was built to facilitate faster, clearer communication between first responders from all departments, so that everyone heading to the site of an incident can be better informed prior to their arrival. To accomplish this, departments participating in the network will utilize a host of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, and wearables) to submit and receive mission-critical data in real time. However, as any good cybersecurity expert knows, the introduction of new technologies into any process can open the door to critical vulnerabilities and other security threats.

First Responders in Borough Park in wake of an explosion.

katz / Shutterstock.com

So, while these connected devices will become ideal means for firefighters, law enforcement, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to quickly communicate critical incident information, among other benefits, the full range of security objectives for the devices are not known.

With that, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is inviting comments on Draft NISTIR 8196, Security Analysis of First Responder Mobile and Wearable Devices, which looks at the current and potential use cases of these mobile and wearable devices by first responders and analyzes them from a cybersecurity perspective. The goals of this analysis are to assist jurisdictions with selecting secure devices by identifying security objectives, and to enable industry to design and produce more secure public safety devices.

The public comment period for this document closes on January 7, 2019.