Virginia STARS system encrypted?

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chaz0426

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I know the Virginia STARS radio network is getting ready to be in full swing later this year. Salem, VA which is closest to me is suppose to be operable this month sometime.

I have a question though, are they planning on encrypting the entire system? I hope not as that would be unfortunate since not just police are on STARS, but almost everything else public.

I'm searching google and so far and I ran into this article saying that STARS will allow encryption since it's an Integrated Voice and Data (IV&D) land mobile radio architecture. However I don't know if they plan on actually encrypting everything even though they have the capability.

Virginia State Police - STARS
 
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KF4ZTO

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Allowing encryption doesn't mean that the system will be 100% encrypted. It just means it has the capability to, should the state decide to encrypt it.

Also, certain STARS talkgroups are encrypted (see the RR DB page for STARS) but the VSP dispatch/tac talkgroups, as well as the VDGIF/VDOC/VDF talkgroups are unencrypted. I've heard from a few people who work with STARS and from what I've heard, once the system is rolled out completely, certain talkgroups will be 100% encrypted, others will have user-selectable encryption, and still others will be in-the-clear (unencrypted).

So don't worry, STARS is actually a plus for scanner listeners in Virginia, if you ask me.
 

N4FTN

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I agree with the comments. STARS has the ability for every TG to have encrypted traffic depending on whether the individual radios are both encryption capable and encryption is user selected. The radios are more expensive with the secure option so only selected radios are secure capable.

Here in the Roanoke area, the Ft. Lewis STARS site is active and has been used for Radio Maintenance traffic during the recent radio upgrade process. Only one TG is active on the site.
 

fmon

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We get occasional Chesapeake 1 (49) and Chesapeake 2 (51) encryption from field units but I've never heard a dispatcher encrypted. Now and then Virginia Port Authority is encrypted,
 

tojohnso

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There have been times when I've been listening to VSP and heard the dispatcher fine, but the field unit sounded encrypted. I wasn't sure if it was just a weak signal. How is it that the field unit can be encrypted carrying on a conversation with an unencrypted dispatcher? Why would they want that?
 

Jim41

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There have been times when I've been listening to VSP and heard the dispatcher fine, but the field unit sounded encrypted. I wasn't sure if it was just a weak signal. How is it that the field unit can be encrypted carrying on a conversation with an unencrypted dispatcher? Why would they want that?

One likely situatiion: the field unit is transmitting sensitive information; the dispatcher is just acknowledging receipt. The sensitive information could be the name of a deceased person.

With these radios the receiver automatically decodes encryption. The radio operator does not have to switch to encryption to receive an encrypted signal. The radio operator does have to manually switch to transmit an encrypted signal.

Jim41
 

fmon

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Chesapeake Surveillance C5 ENC this AM. Both units.

Jim, I think all radios in system can hear clear coms of all transmissions even when user radio is encrypted.

York County has many school bus transmissions ENC but dispatcher is rarely encrypted. Guess they don't want the public to hear whats going on.::lol:
 

MOTORHEAD3902

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Not so with regard to STARS. If one unit is using encryption, field units using "clear" mode do not recieve any audio- however, the dispatcher sees no difference.
 

Jim41

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Not so with regard to STARS. If one unit is using encryption, field units using "clear" mode do not recieve any audio- however, the dispatcher sees no difference.

Thanks for your authoritative information.

Jim41
 

tojohnso

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Heard something interesting on my way home tonight. I heard what appeared to be encryption, same sounds, but between some of it I heard clear voice. So, we could be hearing a weak signal on our end since it's digital (missing some 1's and 0's), but the dispatcher can hear it.

I wonder if anyone can confirm if VSP is in fact using encryption.
 

fmon

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We get occasional Chesapeake 1 (49) and Chesapeake 2 (51) encryption from field units but I've never heard a dispatcher encrypted. Now and then Virginia Port Authority is encrypted,
Heard something interesting on my way home tonight. I heard what appeared to be encryption, same sounds, but between some of it I heard clear voice. So, we could be hearing a weak signal on our end since it's digital (missing some 1's and 0's), but the dispatcher can hear it.

I wonder if anyone can confirm if VSP is in fact using encryption.
49 and 51 are prime examples.
 

Stick0413

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Heard something interesting on my way home tonight. I heard what appeared to be encryption, same sounds, but between some of it I heard clear voice. So, we could be hearing a weak signal on our end since it's digital (missing some 1's and 0's), but the dispatcher can hear it.

I wonder if anyone can confirm if VSP is in fact using encryption.
They have used it in the past and can use it at anytime on any talkgroup. Most of the time they don't but on occasion they will.
 

SkyPager

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I was coming back from NC yesterday and had the chance to listen to VSP. What I heard sounded like voice-inversion. I was using a rubber duck, so the received signal was the greatest.
 

Nitsud

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I know this thread is a little dated, but just for an update. In Div 2, only the SGTS and above have the ability to be encrypted as far as BFO. Now the agents as well as any trooper that is a member of the tac team WILL have the ability to communicate securely.

Also, I cant remember right off hand, but I do specifically remember hearing that div 3 and two other divisions will have ALL units with the ability to go secure.

But remember the court case that was heard in MI. The higher ups I have talked to have made it clear that day to day normal transmissions are subject to the freedom of information act, and therefore they train us as well as the troopers to only use the secure feature for sensitive information. I guess the grey area would be what you could consider sensitive.
 

WA4MJF

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How are the radios "filled" with the current key? Remotely, I would guess. Is it changed every 24 hours or more often?

Thanks.
 

Nitsud

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not quite sure that I can answer your question. What I do know, is that it is simply a button to push both on the the consoles and on the radios in the car, and a switch on the portables, that flip it over to secure.


on a side note, I have been reading the thread about the guy who had div 5 online and then took it off, and there was a long debate about the encryption. I want to stress the simple fact that the radio admins for VSP as well as upper management for VSP fully understand and abide with the fact that it is freedom of information. The encryption at least for the VSP will strictly be limited for high risk tasks and communications, like the EPU or matters of terrorism. This comes straight from one of the directors for stars when he was in our radio room last week. Now that being said, no one can control if a trooper out in the field takes it upon him or herself to flip to secure mode. But, only people who have the secured mode enabled will hear the transmission. Also like I stated earlier today, in Div 2 as well as other divisions, ONLY sgts and above and members of the tac team will have the capability to go secure. With that in mind think about it, we (dispatch) really cant utilize the secure feature due to this fact.
 
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