You are currently viewing The Encrypted World of Sectra Communication Services
Getty Images

The Encrypted World of Sectra Communication Services

28 September 2020

In an increasingly inter-connected world, where communication is key, the protection of such is fundamental. By focusing part of its work on cybersecurity, Sectra is one of the many companies which take on this mission. Today, the company, whose HQ is situated in Linköping, is the main contractor for encrypted communication services for many EU countries and NATO allies, paving the way for new possibilities in the defence sector.

At the end of the 80s, Sectra received an order for a new cryptoprocessor. This was only the beginning of the company’s interest in the production of security-related items for the defence sector. Indeed, its ground-breaking work in the domain of encrypted communication, led almost a decade later to Sectra Tiger becoming the phone of choice of in the Swedish Defence Forces for classified communication. In 1998, Sweden became the first country in the entire world to be provided with a breach-less secure system of communication (Sectra, 2020).

The tie with the Swedish government did not loosen and Sectra became one of the main cybersecurity contractors in the country. At the beginning of September 2020, the medical imaging IT and cybersecurity company tightened its bond with the FMV (Swedish Defence Materiel Administration) with an additional order amounting to approx. $7.21Mil (Army Technology, 2020). The order includes encryption boards for standard computers, voice and data encryption devices, crypto modem for serial communication, router companion encryption, and telephones featuring integrating encryption and GSM technology, making it the most secure mobile encryption device on the market (Sectra, 2020).

Sweden is not the only beneficiary of Sectra’s security services. In July 2020, the Swedish company renewed a contract with the EU for its encryption system Sectra Tiger. These communication systems have been thoroughly endorsed by the EU and NATO, to improve their networks, secure their communications across different domains, whilst keeping intact the integrity of each domain (DI, 2020). The communication sector within national and international boundaries still needs some improving, and cybersecurity protocols cannot be ignored in this time.

According to Sectra’s president Pykälistö, the decision was justified by the heightened the risk of foreign powers eavesdropping on conversations concerning sensitive operations. A secure system of communication is a staple for the correct functioning of the inner systems of national and international defence. For instance, the C3 information system at the basis of Command, Control, and Communication operations within any defence-related organization or structure is in dire need of cybersecurity to work properly and do so in the fastest and most reliable way possible (United States Naval Academy, 2020). In many instances, the system is referred to as C2 because the communication dimension is not taken into consideration. However, more recently, the relevance of communication for the successful liaison, and consequently functioning of the entire structure has been acknowledged. Additionally, any shortcoming in the communication between different domains, or different organizations, would have disruptive spillover effects on all the domains involved, and not solely on communication (Bracken, 2019).

In a recent NATO report, the need to endorse encrypted methods of communication for a better performance appeared when assessing agility capabilities (NATO Research and Technology Organization, 2013). Agility, in this sense, is a crucial capability to organizations like NATO, as it enables those involved in missions or operations to adapt to constant changing of circumstances, and to efficiently use the resources they are provided within a timely manner. It is, indeed, a quick but still thought-out approach to the ever-changing situations which may arise when dealing with missions. Nowadays, many steps towards practical implementation of Agility should still be taken, thus the urgency with which the issue is dealt with in recent reports by NATO suggests that there is much room for improvement and much more work still needs to be done. Elements of C2 Agility might be information availability, levels of collaboration, and decentralization of decisions – all of which rely heavily on communication. Thus, to ensure effective agility across domains among allies, and network safety, the securing of hardware is indispensable. An encrypted network prevents leaks of information and avoids spillover. Secure hardware and software render communication between allies faster and easier with increased safety.  

Indeed, implementing the same security policies and using the same encrypted devices is an important step towards a higher degree of interoperability among NATO allies and EU countries. As previously mentioned, Sectra provides for NATO and EU countries, thus accounting for a technical harmonisation of encryption standards and, at the same time, strengthen national cyber-defence systems. The harmonisation of encrypted communication standards directly leads to positive spillovers to other domains which benefit from this tight-knitted network of communications (Yafina et al., 2020).

All in all, communication is far more important than many think. Though somewhat still primitive in the way in which it is handled nowadays, the use of encrypted networks and devices is an unmistakable step towards safer and successful outcomes in all the domains of operation. An encrypted system of communication is crucial when dealing with weapons and deterrence.  Mismanagement of communication may escalate fragile situations because it protects data from theft and keeps important information internal; it enables the correct functioning of devices involved in facility and network safety, and much more. What is still lacking, and in need of improvement, is the background of protocols designing a strategy of use that could lead to further harmonisation of practices. Nonetheless, as the EU countries steadily proceed towards a more innovative approach to security and defence, it goes without saying that far more positive outcomes in terms of safety – and also interoperability – are to be anticipated in the nearest future.

Written by Roberta CARTA Communication and Public Relations Team at Finabel – European Army Interoperability Centre


Army Technology (2020), Sectra supports Sweden’s FMV for secure communication capabilities. Last updated: 3 September 2020.

Bracken, P. (2019), Communication Disruption Attacks in a Nuclear Context,

DI (2020), Sectra tar order värd 63 miljoner. Dagens industry. Last updated: 2 September 2020.

NATO (2013), C3 Agility. Task Group SAS-085 Final Report. Brussels NATO Research and Technology Organization.

SECTRA (undated), Sectra’s History: 40 years of knowledge and passion. Linköping, official website available at:

United States Naval Academy (undated), Chapter 20: Command, Control and Communication, Fundamentals of Navy Weapons Systems. USA, USNA.

Yafina, A., Inverarity, C. and Unal, B. (2020), Ensuring Cyber Resilience in NATO’s Command, Control and Communication Systems. London, Chatham House.