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AFTAC upgrades phone system to enhance security

James Griffieth (right), an equipment control officer for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines new phones with Staff Sgt. Dali Ramos, a member of Griffieth's installation upgrade team.  The nuclear treaty monitoring center replaced more than 975 telephones to meet or exceed established security requirements.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

James Griffieth (right), an equipment control officer for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines new phones with Staff Sgt. Dali Ramos, a member of Griffieth's installation upgrade team. The nuclear treaty monitoring center replaced more than 975 telephones to meet or exceed established security requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

A collection of old telephones is placed in a large cardboard box at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The nuclear treaty monitoring center replaced its full complement of existing telephones with new systems to meet or exceed established security requirements.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

A collection of old telephones is placed in a large cardboard box at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The nuclear treaty monitoring center replaced its full complement of existing telephones with new systems to meet or exceed established security requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force Technical Applications Center here replaced its full complement of telephones to meet or exceed established security requirements outlined in guidance from the Committee on National Security Systems.

AFTAC’s workforce of more than 1,000 operates in a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, where it conducts its international nuclear treaty monitoring mission. Due to the nature of the information the center processes on a daily basis, personnel require secure communications to execute their respective jobs and duty requirements.

Done in two phases, AFTAC’s team of comm experts began configuring and building user profiles prior to connecting the systems to the network. Once that process was complete, phase two was underway and the team began transferring more than 985 phone numbers from the existing switch belonging to the 45th Communications Squadron to AFTAC’s own new switch.

According to Staff Sgt. Sean Phillips, information technology project manager, upgrading AFTAC’s telephone system was necessary to eliminate any system vulnerabilities.

“Our new phone system is part of what’s called Telecommunications Security Group Six, or TSG-6, and it brings a lot of innovative features to desktop communications, with the most important being secure comms,” said Phillips.

James Griffieth, AFTAC equipment control officer, was the team lead for the installation upgrade and oversaw five Airmen who assisted with the transfer.

“AFTAC had been using Avaya Instruments for several years, and while they are quality phones, they didn’t meet the necessary security requirements when it comes to cybersecurity instructions,” said Griffieth. “We are replacing about 1,200 pieces of equipment with modified Cisco phones, which will put us in compliance with CNSS guidelines. It also gives our leadership peace of mind knowing the information is safe and secure.”

The cost of the conversion was about $2.1 million -- $1.8 million during phase one, and about $350,000 for phase two.

Griffieth said the new phones will have many of the same features as the old phones – speed dial, voice mail, ring tones, phone directory, etc., but pointed out one feature center personnel will have to get used to. “Be sure to push the TSG-6 red button to speak to your caller!”