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Public Safety Broadband Cybersecurity


A nationwide public safety broadband network will provide public safety with the capability for securing and controlling access to the network, applications, and data. To support public safety’s cybersecurity requirements, the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program is conducting research in network interface and data security, mobile application and data isolation, identity management, and mobile application security. The goal is to provide the public safety community with practical, usable cybersecurity tools to meet their current and future needs. PSCR also participates in the security-related working groups of standards development organizations (SDOs) such as 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that impact public safety communications and companion public safety’s requirements.


Mobile Technology Layers

Isolation Between Mobile Technology Layers

Along with the implementation of a nationwide public safety broadband network based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, the network’s cybersecurity capabilities and features will be unique compared to traditional commercial mobile carriers due to public safety’s operational environment and requirements. The public safety community captured their initial requirements, including those for cybersecurity, in the December 2012 Public Safety High-Level Requirements document from National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and continues to refine and develop their requirements. PSCR and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to conduct cybersecurity research to advance and secure wireless public safety communication. Although the cybersecurity capabilities and features of the nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network are important, they must complement and not impede the ability of public safety to complete its mission.


By leveraging NIST ITL’s cybersecurity expertise from the Computer Security, Applied Cybersecurity, System and Software, and Information Access Divisions, PSCR identifies and addresses cybersecurity gaps relevant to public safety with the following approach:

  • Understanding public safety requirements through interacting directly with the public safety community at workshops, conferences, and meetings
  • Applying existing cybersecurity standards, best practices, guidelines, and methodologies for mobile communication networks, when appropriate
  • Participating in SDO’s security related working groups to ensure standards impacting public safety communications are secured
  • Conducting cybersecurity research into mobile communication and LTE technologies


PSCR is conducting research to provide the public safety community and FirstNet with practical and usable cybersecurity tools and information, including standards, best practices, guidelines, and methodologies to meet the unique requirements of public safety community.

Securing Critical LTE Network Interfaces pscr
Securing Critical LTE Network Interfaces

Identifying Public Safety Datatypes
Identifying Public Safety Datatypes

Created August 17, 2016, Updated July 13, 2017