Securing critical navigation data for a decade with Netans Data Distribution Unit

Over a decade ago, Exail recognized the vulnerabilities faced by modern navies, such as data breaches and GNSS spoofing, which posed significant threats to naval missions and national security. This prompted Exail to develop Netans Data Distribution Unit (DDU), a sophisticated system designed not only to secure but also to optimize the distribution of navigation data aboard naval vessels. With cybersecurity increasingly critical in modern naval operations, where ships rely more on advanced technologies for navigation and mission-critical tasks, Netans has since proven its value, evolving into an indispensable asset embraced by over 25 navies worldwide.

The early years: innovating with ICCBs

In 2008, Exail introduced its first ICCBs (Interface Control and Communication Box) tailored to meet the complex communication and control needs of navies worldwide. These boxes were pivotal in managing data from various sensors, ensuring secure communications, and seamlessly integrating with onboard systems. Initially adopted by navies such as Germany’s, Morocco’s, and France’s, these ICCBs laid the groundwork for future advancements in naval technology.

The ICCB was used in naval vessels to manage and control various communication systems, ensuring efficient and organized distribution of data and communications across the ship.

Expanding capabilities: transition to Netans DDUs

By 2010, Exail expanded its footprint with solutions deployed on Class Kasturi ships of the Malaysian Navy. As naval operations grew in complexity and faced new threats, the demand for more sophisticated data distribution and security systems grew. This necessitated the evolution from ICCBs to Netans DDUs, which introduced enhanced features to safeguard data integrity and combat emerging cyber threats. In 2014, the first Netans DDUs were installed on UAE Arialah-class Offshore Patrol Vessels.

Continuous innovation and enhancement

Since then, Netans DDUs have played a pivotal role in enhancing naval operations’ efficiency by not only converting and distributing sensor data but also analyzing, correlating, and validating critical navigation information. Equipped with advanced software, they ensure reliability and accuracy across diverse environmental conditions, supporting naval missions with uninterrupted, secure data transmission. “Netans DDUs can raise alarms or automatically reject input data if necessary, ensuring the delivery of comprehensive, real-time merged, and consolidated navigation information to subscriber systems, including combat management system or weapon system. Built-in navigation algorithms further enhance reliability, coherence, and accuracy by leveraging consistent data from inertial, civilian GNSS, military GNSS, magnetic compass, and log sources, regardless of environmental conditions. Netans has also been designed to work in full redundant architecture, providing the highest level of safety and reliability for the navigation data.” explains Jean Lagaillarde, Product Manager at Exail.

Netans Series is a range of smart naval Data Distribution Units, tailored to meet the most challenging requirements for surface and subsurface platforms in an era of Navigation Warfare.

Advancing cybersecurity features

Over the years, as advanced technology has become integral to maritime operations, the risk of cyber threats has escalated. Naval forces now require even more robust and secure data management systems to protect sensitive information and maintain operational integrity. In response to this necessity, Exail has continuously innovated its Netans system, incorporating advanced cybersecurity measures tailored specifically for naval environments:

  • Secure communication protocols: Netans uses SSH and HTTPS to encrypt data transmission, preventing interception and tampering, and ensuring secure communication channels crucial for naval operations.
  • Hardware protections: housed in secure cabinets with controlled access mechanisms and optional port blocking, Netans effectively deters unauthorized access attempts and safeguards sensitive data aboard naval vessels.
  • Real-time threat detection: advanced algorithms within Netans continuously monitor for anomalies such as jamming and GNSS spoofing. Immediate responses are triggered to maintain navigation integrity, crucial for navigating through potential threats.
  • Software integrity checks: Netans performs continuous monitoring of the file system to detect unauthorized modifications, ensuring the integrity and authenticity of data used for critical naval operations.

Empowering global naval forces

Netans has become a cornerstone in strengthening naval defense worldwide, offering scalable and reliable solutions that enhance operational resilience and cybersecurity across various naval platforms and mission environments. With over 300 units delivered since its inception, Netans has been adopted by navies worldwide, including Spain, UAE, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, and France.

An exemplary deployment of Netans is seen in the Defense and Intervention Frigate (FDI) of Naval Group, a flagship project showcasing Exail’s cybersecurity solutions. Equipped with Netans, the FDI represents a new era in naval security, featuring dual data centers and advanced threat detection mechanisms to safeguard critical navigation data. This capability ensures operational continuity and resilience against cyber threats, setting a benchmark for future naval innovations.

Equipped with Netans, the French FDI represents a new era in naval security, featuring dual data centers and advanced threat detection mechanisms to safeguard critical navigation data. Copyright: Naval Group.

Celebrating Netans’ impact on naval security

“As we celebrate Netans’ 10th anniversary, it’s clear that its role in naval operations has been transformative,” says Jean Lagaillarde. “By enabling seamless integration of sensor data and enhancing navigation reliability across diverse environments, Netans has set a new standard for operational efficiency and cybersecurity resilience in maritime defense.” Looking ahead, Netans continues to pave the way for safer and more secure naval operations globally. Its widespread adoption by navies worldwide for both new built or retrofit underscores its pivotal role in safeguarding critical navigation data and advancing maritime cybersecurity capabilities. Netans DDU remains at the forefront of Exail’s mission to innovate and protect, ensuring naval forces navigate with confidence through evolving challenges in the modern maritime landscape.