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Sci-Tech

Digital armor to protect tanks

Ruggedized firewall designed to protect military networks.

General Dynamics Canada

Depleted uranium armor may provide great protection against other tanks, but it's useless against hackers bent on penetrating the networks that tankers and other crews increasingly rely on to move and shoot.

Looking to fill the order for "digital armor," General Dynamics Canada and Secure Computing have teamed up to develop Meshnet, a hardware/software firewall designed to protect networks and digital devices inside tanks and other military vehicles from hostile computer and virus attacks.

Without adequate firewall protection, a tech-savvy enemy could infiltrate the net to eavesdrop, ambush or "blind" a crew by cutting off its information flow. This was reportedly the case during Israel's incursion into South Lebanon last year, where Hezbollah hackers were allegedly able to monitor IDF communications, giving the guerrillas a leg up in attacking Israeli armor.

Inside the M1 Abrams U.S. Army

The system uses Secure Computing's off-the-shelf Sidewinder Security Appliance (view PDF), the most comprehensive security gateway appliance in the world, the company claims.

Sidewinder consolidates all major Internet security functions into a single system, providing "best-of-breed" antivirus and spyware network protection "against all types of threats, both known and unknown," according to Secure Computing.

The software is packed onto a circuit board slotted inside Meshnet's "ruggedized" olive-drab, conduction-cooled chassis. This not only allows it to operate in the hot, dusty jolt-prone tank interior, but also to avoid clashing with the overall color scheme.