Cobalt 1.5 – New Capabilities

Overview

This release adds new functionality and features to Cobalt, our web based role and user provisioning tool. You can find out more about Cobalt here.

Multiple Cobalt Servers

This enhancement enables multiple Cobalt servers to be run against a single directory. There are two reasons for this.

  1. In a distributed environment it is useful to have multiple Cobalt servers at different locations, each connected to the local node of a multi-master directory.
  2. Where a read only directory is replicated, for example using Sodium Sync to a Mobile Unit, it is useful to run Cobalt (read only) against the replica, to allow local administrators to conveniently view the configuration using Cobalt.

Password Management and Password Policy

This update includes a number of enhancements relating to password management:

  1. Cobalt is now aware of password policy. A key change is that after administrator creation or change of password, when password policy requires user change, Cobalt will mark the password as requiring user change. To be useful in deployment, the applications used also need to be password policy aware.
  2. Cobalt added a user UI to enable password change/reset, to complement Administrator password change.
  3. Administrator option to email new password to user.

Security Management

  1. Directory Access Rights Management. M-Vault Directory Groups enable specification of user rights, to directory and messaging configuration in the directory. This can be configured by Cobalt by domain administrators.
  2. Certificate expiry checking. When managing a directory holding many certificates, it is important to keep them up to date. Cobalt provides a tool which can be run at intervals to determine certificates which have expired and certificates which will expire soon.

User Directory Viewer

Cobalt’s primary purpose is directory administration. This update adds a complementary tool which enables users to access information in the directory managed by Cobalt. This uses anonymous access for user convenience.

Miscellaneous

  1. Flexible Search. Cobalt administrators have the option to configure search fields available for users. Configuration is per-domain.
  2. Users, Roles and mailing list members now sorted alphabetically.
  3. Base DN can be specified for users for a domain. If specified, Cobalt allows browsing users under this DIT (entry) using subtree search. Add user operation is disabled if this is specified. This allows Cobalt to:
    1. Utilize User provision by other means, for reference from within Cobalt managed components.
    2. To modify the entries, but does not allow addition of new entries.

Red/Black – 2.1 New Capabilities

Overview

This release adds important new functionality and adds further device drivers to Red/Black, a management tool that allows you to monitor and control devices and servers across a network, with a particular focus on HF Radio Systems.  A general summary is given in the white paper Red/Black Overview.

Rules

Red/Black 2.1 adds a Rules capability that allows rules to be specified in the Lua programming language, which allows flexible control.    Standard rules are provided along with sample rules to help creation of rules useful for a deployment.  There are a number of rule capabilities:

  • A basic rule capability is control based on device parameter values.   Rules can generate alerts, for example to alert at operator at selected severity when a message queue exceeds a certain size.
  • For devices with parameters that clearly show faults or exception status,  standard device type rules are provided that will alert the operator to the fault condition.   This standard rule can be selected for devices of that type.
  • Rules can set parameters on devices, including control of device actions.   For example, this can be used to turn off  a device when a thermometer device records a high temperature.
  • Rules can reference devices connected in the communications chain.  For example a rule can be created to alert an operator if the frequency used on a radio does not match the supported frequency range of a connected antenna.
  • Rules can be used to reconfigure (soft) connectivity, for example to switch in a replacement device when a device fails.

Snapshot

Configuration snapshots can be taken, reflecting the current Red/Black configuration, and Red/Black configuration can be reset to a snapshot. The capability is intended to record standard operational status of a setup to allow convenient reversion after temporary changes.

eLogic/Leonardo Radio Gateway driver

The eLogic/Leonardo Radio Gateway provides conversion between synchronous serial and TCP, with multiple convertors in a single SNMP-managed box.  A key target for this is data connectivity to remote Tx/Rx sites.  The Red/Black driver enables configuration as TCP to Serial and Serial to TCP modes, enabling a Red/Black operator to change selected modem/radios.  

Web (http) Drivers

Red/Black 2.1 has added an internal Isode framework which allows drivers to manage devices or servers via HTTP(S). This is being used in a number of new drivers, and is Isode’s preferred approach for managing devices. New drivers are:

  1. M-Link.   Allows monitoring of M-Link servers, showing:
    1. Number of connected users.
    2. Number of peer connections.
    3. Number of queued stanzas.
  2. Icon-5066.  Controlling  STANAG 5066 product:
    1. Enable/Disable node
    2. Show STANAG 5066 Address
    3. Show Number connected SIS clients
    4. Show If flow is on or off
  3. Icon-PEP.  Providing:
    1. Enable/Disable service
    2. Show number of TCP connections
    3. Show current transfer rate
  4. Sodium Sync.   Providing:
    1. Number of synchronizations
    2. Last synchronization that made changes
    3. List of synchronizations not working correctly
    4. Alerts for failed synchronizations
  5. Supported Modems.   This replaces drivers working directly with modems included in Icon-5066 3.0.   The new driver talks directly to Proxy Modem or to Icon-5066 where Proxy Modem is not used.  This displays a wide range of modem parameters.   Various modem types can be selected to display appropriate information from the connected device:
    1. Narrowband Modem.
    2. Narrowband Modem with ALE.
    3. Wideband Modem.
    4. Modem/Radio combined variants of the previous three types.

Other

  • Parameter Encryption.   Red/Black can securely store parameters, such as passwords, to prevent exposure as command line arguments to device drivers.
  • Device Ordering.   Devices are now listed in alphabetical order.
  • Alert Source.  Alerts now clearly show where they are generated (Red/Black; Rule; Device Driver; Device).
  • Link to device management.   Where Red/Black monitored devices have Web management, the URL of the Web interface can be configured in Red/Black so that the management UI can be accessed with single click from Red/Black.

M-Link 19.4 Limited Release

M-Link 19.4 provides a very significant update and in particular provides the M-Link User Server product. It also provides M-Link MU Server, M-Link MU Gateway and M-Link Edge.   It does not provide M-Link IRC Gateway, which remains M-Link 17.0 only.

M-Link 19.4 Limited Release is provided ahead of the full M-Link 19.4 release. M-Link 19.4 Limited Release is fully supported by Isode for production deployment. There is one significant difference with a standard Isode release:

  • Updates to M-Link 19.4 Limited Release will include additional functionality. This contrasts to standard Isode releases where updates are “bug fix only”. There will be a series of updates which will culminate in the full M-Link 19.4 release.

Goals

There are three reasons that this approach is being taken:

  1. To provide a preview for those interested to look at the new capabilities of M-Link 19.4.
  2. To enable production deployment of M-Link 19.4 ahead of full release for customers who do not need all of the features of the full M-Link 19.4 release.  M-Link 19.4 limited release provides ample functionality for a baseline XMPP user service.
  3. To enable customer review of what will be in M-Link 19.4 full release. We are planning to not provide all M-Link 17.0 capabilities in M-Link 19.4 full release. A list is provided below of the current plan. Based on feedback, we may bring more functionality into M-Link 19.4 full release. There is a trade-off between functionality and shipping date, which we will review with customers.

 

Benefits

M-Link 19.4 User Server and M-Link 19.4 MU Server offer significant benefits over M-Link 17.0:

  • M-Link 19.4 is fully Web managed, and M-Link Console is no longer used. This is the most visible difference relative to M-Link 17.0.  This enables management without installing anything on the management client.  It is helpful for deployments also using Web management in M-Link  Edge  and M-Link  MU Gateway (using either 19.3 or 19.4 versions).
  • Flexible link handling, as provided previously in M-Link 19.3
  1. Multiple links may be established with a peer.  These links may be prioritized, so that for example a SATCOM link will be used by default with fall back to HF in the event of primary link failure.  Fall forward is also supported, so that the SATCOM link is monitored and traffic will revert when it becomes available again. 
  2. Automatic closure of idle remote peer sessions after configurable period.
  3. Support for inbound only links, primarily to support Icon-Topo.
  4. “Whitespace pings” to X2X (XEP-0361) sessions to improve failover after connectivity failures.
  • M-Link MU Server allows the HF Radio improvements of M-Link 19.3 MU Gateway to be used in a single server, rather than deploying M-Link 19.3 MU Gateway plus M-Link 17.0 User Server
  • The session monitoring improvements previously provided in M-Link 19.3
  1. Shows sessions of each type (S2S, X2X (XEP-0361), GCXP (M-Link Edge), and XEP-0365 (SLEP)) with information on direction and authentication
  2. Enable monitoring for selected sessions to show traffic, including ability to monitor session initialization.
  3. Statistics for sessions, including volume of data, and number of stanzas.
  4. Peer statistics, providing summary information and number of sessions for each peer.
  5. Statistics for the whole server, giving session information for the whole server.
  • Use of the capabilities previously provided in M-Link 19.3 to provide metrics on activity to enable us to feed them into a Prometheus database using the statsd protocol. Prometheus is a widely used time series database used to store metrics:  https://prometheus.io/. Grafana is a graphing front end often used with Prometheus:  https://grafana.com/.  Grafana provides dashboards to present information.  Isode will make available sample Grafana dashboards on request to evaluators and customers.  Metrics that can be presented include:
  1. Stanza count and rate for each peer
  2. Number of bytes sent and received for each link
  3. Number of sessions (C2S; S2S; GCXP; X2X; and XEP-0365 (SLEP))
  4. Message queue size for peers – important for low bandwidth links
  5. Message latency for each peer – important for high latency links
  • Provides HTTP Upload (XEP-0363) that enables a client to upload a file to the M-Link server and then share using URL.  This is supported by Swift 6.0 to provide file sharing.
  • Enhanced FMUC (XEP-0289 Federated MUC) capabilities
    • Use of the fallback capabilities of M-Link 19.4 to provide improved resilience
    • Improved detection of failed communication between links, using (lack of) XEP-0198 acknowledgements to determine link failure and sending regular pings so that failure is detected when there is no user traffic.

M-Link 19.4 (Limited Release) Update Plan

This section sets out the plan for providing updates to M-Link 19.4 (Limited Release)

The current release is Update 1, which added FMUC capabilities among other functionality. Please note that the update number is distinct from the release version number. The first software version of update 1 is “19.4v4”.

The following updates are planned:

Update 2: Archive Administration

The initial archive capability is fully functional. Administration adds a number of functions, including the ability to export, back up and truncate the archive. These capabilities are seen as important for operational deployment of archiving.

Update 3: CSR Generation

Management of PKI identities and certificates in R19.4 is done with PEM files, which is pragmatic.  Use of PKCS#10 Certificate Signing Requests is a more elegant approach that enables operational integration with deployed Certification Authorities.

Update 4: Clustering

Clustering is the largest piece of work and the most significant omission from the limited release. It is expected to take a number of months work to complete this, based on core work already done. 

Update 5: Miscellaneous

There are a number of smaller tasks that are seen as essential for R19.4 final release, which will likely be provided incrementally. If any are seen as high priority for the limited release, it would be possible to address prior to the clustering update.

  • Server-side XEP-0346 Form Discovery and Publishing (FDP). This will enable third-party clients to use FDP.
  • Certificate checking using CRL (Certificate Revocation List) and OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol).
  • Complete implementation of XEP-0163 Personal Eventing Protocol (PEP). This is mostly complete in the initial limited release.
  • Administration. The limited release supports single administrator with password managed by M-Link.
    • Option for multiple administrators
    • Option for administrators specified and authenticated by LDAP
    • Administrators with per-domain administration rights
  • XEP-0198 Stream Management  support for C2S (limited release supports it in S2S and XEP-0361)
  • Web monitoring of C2S connections
  • XEP-0237 Roster versioning
  • C2S SASL EXTERNAL to provide client strong authentication
  • SASL GSSAPI support to enable client authentication using Windows SSO
  • Provide transformations for C2S connections, for example to prevent negotiation of in-band bytestreams

Update 6: Upgrade

To provide an upgrade from M-Link 17.0. This capability is best developed last.

Note that M-Link 19.4 limited release will automatically upgrade from M-Link 19.2/19.3 Edge and from M-Link 19.3 MU Gateway.

Items Under Consideration for M-Link 19.4 Final Release

There is a trade-off between functionality included and ship date. The following capabilities supported in in 17.0 are under consideration for inclusion in M-Link 19.4. We ask for customer review of these items.

Unless we get clear feedback requesting inclusion of these features, we will not include them in 19.4 and will consider them as desirable features for a subsequent release.

  • XEP-0114 Jabber Component Protocol that allows use of third party components.
  • Archiving PubSub events (on user and pubsub domains)
  • Configuring what to archive per domain (R17 supports: nothing, events only (create, destroy, join, etc), events and messages)
  • Providing a clean user interface for assigning MUC affiliations to groups, to simplify MUC rights administration. This can currently be achieved but the UI is limited
  • XEP-0227 configuration support to facilitate server migration
  • “Send Announcement” to broadcast information to all users
  • PDF/A archiving to provide a simple and stable long term archive

Features post 19.4

After 19.4 Final Release is made, future releases will be provided on the normal Isode model of major and minor releases with updates as bug fix only.

Customer feedback is requested to help us set priorities for these subsequent releases.

M-Link IRC Gateway

M-Link IRC gateway is the only M-Link product not provided in M-Link 19.4. M-Link 17.0 IRC Gateway works well as an independent product.

When we do a new version, we plan to provide important new functionality and not simply move the 17.0 functionality into a new release.

New Capabilities

The R19.4 User Server focus has been to deliver functionality equivalent to 17.0 on the R19.3 base. After 19.4 we are considering adding new features. Customers are invited to provide requirements and to comment on the priority of identified potential new capabilities set out here:

  • FMUC Clustering.  M-Link 19.4 (and 17.0) FMUC nodes cannot be clustered.
  • FMUC use with M-Link IRC Gateway. Currently, IRC cannot be used with FMUC. This would be helpful for IRC deployment.
  • STANAG 4774/4778 Confidentiality Labels.
  • RFC 7395 Websocket support as an alternative to BOSH.
  • OAuth (RFC 6749) support
  • Support of PKCS#11 Hardware Security Modules

M-Link 17.0 User Server Features not in R19.4

This section sets out a number of 17.0 features that are not planned for R19.4. If there is a clear customer requirement, we could include in R19.4. We are interested in customer input on priority of these features relative to each other and to other potential work.

The following capabilities are seen to have clear benefit and Isode expects to add them.

  • Security Label and related configuration for individual MUC Rooms.  In 19.4 this can be configured per MUC domain, so an equivalent capability can be obtained by using a MUC domain for each security setting required,
  • XEP-0012 Last Activity
  • Option to limit the number of concurrent sessions for a user
  • XMPPS (port 5223) has clear security benefits. The 17.0 implementation has limited management which means that it is not generally useful in practice.

The following capabilities are potentially desirable.  Customer feedback is sought.

  • XEP-0346 Form Discovery and Publishing (FDP)
    • WebApp viewer.  We believe this would be better done in a client (e.g., Swift).
    • Gateway Java app, which converted new FDP forms to text and submitted to MUC.
    • Administration of FDP data on Server.   
  • Per-Domain Search Settings, so that users can be constrained as to which domains can be searched
  • Internal Access Control Lists, for example to permit M-Link Administrators to edit user rosters.
  • Generic PubSub administration

Features in M-Link 17.0 that Isode plans to drop

There are a number of features provided in M-Link 17.0 that Isode has no current plans to provide going forward, either because they are provided by other mechanisms or they are not seen to add value. These are listed here  primarily to validate that no customers need these functions.

  • Schematron blocking rules
    • These have been replaced with XSLT transform rules
  • IQ delegation that enables selected stanzas sent to users to be instead processed by a component
  • XEP-50 user preferences
    • This ad-hoc allowed users to set preferences overriding server defaults to indicate which types of stanzas they wanted to store in offline storage and whether to auto-accept or auto-subscribe presence.
  • Management of XEP-0191 block lists by XEP-0050 ad hoc
    • Management of block lists, where desired, is expected to be performed by XEP-0191
  • XEP-114 Component permissions
  • Pubsub presence, apart from that provided by PEP
  • XEP-78 (non-SASL authentication)
    • This is obsolete
  • Some internal APIs that are not longer needed
  • Support for a security label protocol (reverse engineered by Isode) used in the obsolete CDCIE product
  • Security Checklist
    • M-Link Console had a security checklist which checked the configuration to see if there was anything insecure
    • This does not make sense in context of the Web interface which aims to flag security issues in appropriate part of UI
  • Conversion of file based archive to Wabac
    • M-Link Console had an option to “Convert and import file-based archive…” in the “Archive” menu
    • This was needed to support archive migration from older versions of M-Link
  • Pubsub-based statistics. M-Link 17.0 recorded statistics using PubSub. M-Link 19.4 does this using Prometheus, which can be integrated with Grafana dashboards.
  • XMPP-based group discovery – the ability to use XMPP discovery on an object  and get a list of groups back.
  • XML-file archives
    • This was a write-only archive format used by older versions of M-Link before introduction of the current archive database. M-Link 17.0 continued to support this option.

Icon-PEP 2.0 – New Capabilities

Icon-PEP supports operation of IP applications over HF networks using STANAG 5066 Link Layer

Listed below are the changes brought in with 2.0.

Web Management

A web interface is provided which includes:

  • Full configuration of Icon-PEP
  • TLS (HTTPS) access and configuration including bootstrap with self signed certificate and identity management.
  • Control interface to enable or disable Icon-PEP
  • Monitoring to include:
    • Access to all logging metrics
    • Monitoring GRE traffic with peered routers
    • Monitoring IP Client traffic to STANAG 5066
    • Monitoring DNS traffic
    • Monitoring TCP traffic with details of HTTP queries and responses

Authentication and Authorization

OAuth support added to control access to monitoring and configuration.

NAT Mode

A NAT (Network Address Translation) mode is introduced which supports Mobile Unit mobility for traffic initiated by Mobile Unit.   Inbound IP or SLEP (TCP) traffic will have address mapped so that traffic on shore side appears to come from the local node.  This avoids the need for complex IP routing to support traffic to Mobile Units not using fixed IP routing.

Other Features

  • Product Activation, including control of the number of Units
  • Filtering (previously IP client only) extended to SLEP/TCP

Messaging Products Update – 19.0 Capabilities

The below is a list of the new capabilities brought to our Messaging products for the 19.0 release. 19.0 adds a lot of extra functionality across the board for our messaging products, along with a complete rewrite of the codebase so that future releases and bug fixes can be developed more quickly. For the full release notes please check the individual product updates, available from the customer portal and evaluation sections of our website.

Dependencies

Cobalt (version 1.3 or later) is needed to manage various capabilities in M-Switch 19.0. HSM management depends on Cobalt version 1.4 or later.

M-Switch, M-Store and M-Box depend on M-Vault 19.0.   All of these products are a part of R19.0 with common libraries and so are commonly installed together.

Product Activation 

All of the messaging products now use the new product activation.  Products activation is managed with the Messaging Activation Server (MAS) which provides a Web interface to facilitate managing activation of messaging and other Isode products.   MAS is provided as a tool, but installed as an independent component.   

M-Switch

Product Activation

There are a number of M-Switch features arising from the new product activation:

  • Various product options are encoded in the activation, restricting functionality to M-Switch options purchased.   The options available and any activation time limits are displayed by MConsole.
  • MConsole will correctly display the product name of the M-Switch being used (e.g., M-Switch MIXER, M-Switch Gateway etc).
  • MConsole views are restricted so that only ones relevant to the activated options are shown (e.g,, ACP 127 views will not be shown unless ACP 127 is activated).

Use of Cobalt

A number of functions have been moved from MConsole to Cobalt, which provides a Web general administrator interface.   MConsole is being more focused on M-Switch server configuration and operation.   Capabilities provided by Cobalt in support of M-Switch:

  • User and Role provisioning (replacing Internet Mail View)
  • Special function mailboxes
  • Redirections
  • Standard SMTP distribution lists
  • Military Distribution Lists
  • Profiler Configuration
  • File Transfer by Email (FTBE) account provisioning

Directory and Authentication

A number of enhancements have been made to improve security of authentication.   New configurations will require this improved security and upgrades are expected to switch.

  • Configuration of default M-Vault configuration directory is simplified.
  • Option provided to use a different M-Vault directory for users/operators, defaulting to the configuration directory.
  • M-Switch access to configuration and user directories will always authenticate using SASL SCRAM-SHA-1.  This is particularly important for deployments not using TLS, as it will ensure plain passwords are not sent over a link, while still using hashed passwords in M-Vault.
  • M-Vault directories created by MConsole will always have TLS enabled (where the product activation option allows).
  • Connections from M-Switch to M-Vault will use TLS by default.
  • Three modes can be configured for SMTP and SOM (MConsole) access to M-Switch
    • SCRAM-SHA-1.  This is the default and is a secure option suitable for most configurations.
    • PLAIN.  This option is needed if authentication is done using pass through to Active directory.   This should only be used on systems with TLS.
    • ANY.  When this option is used, SOM/MConsole will use SCRAM-SHA-1.   It is needed for SMTP setups that want to offer additional SASL mechanisms such as CRAM-MD5, which will need plain passwords to be stored in M-Vault.

ACP 127

An extensive set of enhancements had been provided to ACP 127.

  • Extend circuit control from enabled/disable to Enabled (Rx/Tx) / Rx Only / Disabled
  • Enhanced OPSIG support for BRIPES following agreed doc:
    • QRT/QRV.   Supports remote enable/disable, including control from top level of circuit management UI
    • ZES2 automatic handling on receive
    • Service message option to send INT ZBZ
    • Configurable option for reliable circuit to send ZBZ5 to acknowledge receipt of identified message
    • Limiting priority UI use two letter codes, but will still recognize single letter
    • Add CHANNEL CHECK generation and response
  • Option to use “Y” for emergency messages
  • Support for Community Variables (CV) which is a BRASS mechanism to use multiple crypto keys
    • Configuration of CVs available for each destination
    • Display of CVs for queued messages
    • CV Audit Logging
  • Scheduled Broadcasts to support MUs with constrained availability (e.g., Submarines)
    • Periodic Mode with GUI configuration
    • UI to show which messages will be transmitted in which period based on estimated transmission times
    • Scheduled periods at same time each day
    • Explicitly scheduled fixed intervals on specific day
  • Extension to Routing Tree configuration to specify specific channel.   This makes it easier to utilize the ACP 127 RI routing, which is needed in many ACP 127 configurations
  • Improved mapping of CAD/AIG to SMTP
  • Option to turn off message reassembly
  • Improvements to monitoring of circuits using serial links

FAB (Frequency Assignment Broadcast)

A subsystem is provided to support FAB, which is needed for older BRASS systems that do not support ALE. The M-Switch FAB architecture is described in  https://www.isode.com/whitepapers/brass.html. The key points are listed below:

  • A new FAB Server component is provided to run black side and generate the FAB data stream(s).
  • Red/Black separation can be provided by M-Guard
  • The FAB Server can monitor a remote modem for link quality using a new SNR monitoring protocol provided by Icon-5066 3.0.
  • Circuits to support FAB use a new “anonymous” type, reflecting that they are not associated with a specific peer.
  • Support is provided for ARQ (STANAG 5066 COSS) circuits which operate automatically shore side and for direct to modem circuits which require a shore side operator.
  • There is an operator UI for each circuit that enables setting FAB status and controlling acceptance of messages

Profiler and Corrector

  1. Support of TLS for Corrector UI and Manual Profiler
  2. Improved message display, including Security Label
  3. Profile configuration read from directory, which enables Cobalt configuration of Profiler rules

Icon-Topo Support

Isode’s Icon-Topo product automatically updates M-Switch configuration in support of MU Mobility.  M-Switch enhancements made in support of this:

  • Show clearly in MConsole when External MTAs, Routing Tree Entries and Nexus are created by Icon-Topo.
  • Enhance Nexus and Diversion UI to better display Icon-Topo created information.

PKCS#11 HSM Support

PKCS#11 HSM (Hardware Security Module) support is added. This has been tested with HSMs from Nitrokey, Yubico, Gemalto and the SoftHSM software.  HSM support can be enabled and PKCS#11 identities created by Cobalt can be configured and used for all TLS and S/MIME functions in M-Switch.

Miscellaneous

  • Configure Warning Time based on Message Priority.
  • Tool to facilitate log and archive clear out

M-Store

No new features for R19.0.

M-Box

Improved Searching

Message searching is extended with three new capabilities that are exposed in Harrier.

  • Choice to search based on SIC (Subject Indicator Code) which can be used on its own or in conjunction with options to search other parts of the message.
  • Option to filter search based on a choice of one or more message precedences, matching against the action or info precedence as appropriate for the logged in user.
  • Option to filter search based on selected security label.

PKCS#11 HSM Support

PKCS#11 HSM (Hardware Security Module) support is added. This has been tested with HSMs from Nitrokey, Yubico, Gemalto and the SoftHSM software.  This can be used to protect TLS access to M-Box using server identity created by Cobalt.

Directory Products Update – 19.0 Capabilities

The below is a list of the new capabilities brought to our Directory products for the 19.0 release. 19.0 adds a lot of extra functionality across the board for our messaging products, along with a complete rewrite of the codebase so that future releases and bug fixes can be developed more quickly. For the full release notes please check the individual product updates, available from the customer portal and evaluation sections of our website.

Dependencies

Use of several new 19.0 features depend on Cobalt 1.3 or later.

M-Vault

Product Activation 

M-Vault uses the new product activation.  Product activation is managed with the Messaging Activation Server (MAS) which provides a Web interface to facilitate managing activation of messaging and other Isode products. MAS is provided as a tool, but installed as an independent component.   

Headless Setup

M-Vault, in conjunction with Cobalt, provides a mechanism to set up a server remotely with a Web interface only. This complements setup on the server using the M-Vault Console GUI.

Password Storage

Password storage format defaults to SCRAM-SHA-1 (hashed). This hash format is preferred as it enables use of SASL SCRAM-SHA-1 authentication which avoids sending plain passwords. Storage of passwords in the plain (previous default) is still allowed but discouraged.

LDAP/AD Passthrough

An LDAP Passthrough mechanism is added so that M-Vault users can be authenticated over LDAP against an entry in another directory. The key target for this mechanism is where there is a need to manage information in M-Vault, but to authenticate users with password against users provisioned in Microsoft Active Directory.  This is particularly important for Isode applications such as M-Switch, M-Link, and Harrier which utilize directory information not generally held in Active Directory.

Cobalt provides capabilities to manage accounts utilizing LDAP Passthrough.

OAuth Enhancements

A number of enhancements to OAuth, which was introduced in R18.1

  • OAUTH service has been integrated  into the core M-Vault server, which simplifies configuration and improves security,
  • Operation without Client Secret, validating OAUTH Client using TLS Client Authentication.  This improves security and resilience.
  • Allow client authentication using Windows SSO, so that Windows SSO can work for OAUTH Clients.  This enables SSO to be used for Isode’s applications using OAuth.

Sodium Sync

  • Some enhancements to Sodium Sync to improve operation on Windows Server.
  • Option that will improve performance for any remote server with a large round-trip-time. 

M-Guard 1.4 New Capabilities

M-Guard 1.4 is a platform support update release for M-Guard Console and M-Guard Appliance. M-Guard Appliance has been updated to use UEFI instead of BIOS for key system services.

Platform Support

The M-Guard Appliance now supports running on Netgate 6100 and 6100 MAX appliance systems.

M-Guard Appliance on Hyper-V now uses Generation 2 virtual machines.

M-Guard Appliance on VirtualBox now uses EFI.

Use of BIOS for booting is deprecated in favor of UEFI.

Base Operation System Upgraded 

The M-Guard Appliance operating system is now powered by FreeBSD 13.1.

Notice

Upgrading earlier installations requires special steps.  Contact Isode support for assistance.

Cobalt 1.3 Release Features

Cobalt 1.3 depends on M-Vault 19.0 or subsequent versions

M-Vault Management Support

  • M-Vault Bootstrap.   Enables operation in conjunction with M-Vault 19.0 to support headless bootstrap.
  • Managing users in M-Vault groups, such as Directory Server Administrators  and Messaging Configuration Read/Write.  This enables Cobalt to control user and operator rights to access M-Vault.
  • AD/LDAP passthrough support
    • Allow users (per domain) to support mandatory or partial passthrough
    • Set and validate passthrough entry for user
    • Identify users in passthrough server that might be added to domain

Messaging Management

  • Profile Editor for supporting and managing M-Switch Profiler.
    • SIC Coverage UI. Provide full list of SICS, showing which addresses each one goes to.   This enables operator to ensure that all SICs are sensibly handled.
  • File Transfer By Email capability is now managed by Cobalt, replacing capability previously in MConsole.
  • For Organizations and Military DLs enable control manage capability functions:
    • Max Message Size
    • Max Line Length (for ACP 127 destinations)
    • Charset Restrictions (for ACP 127 destinations)
    • Allows/block attachments
  • Option to show for a user which DLs the user is in, and give easy addition to other DLs.  This facilitates managing DL membership.

New Views

  • Non-Human Users (Special Users).  Need to support accounts with passwords that are not humans.   For XMPP, Email or both.  
  • View for end users, rather than administrators.  User can:
    • Change password. 
    • See all of own entry and modify  attributes.   The list of modifiable attributes can be configured.
    • See references to entry and email list membership.
  • User Groups, to enable management of directory groups (Distinguished Names).

Cobalt Access Control

  • New Cobalt roles, that can enable selective control of which users can access directory admin controls, and which users can set OAUTH rights and can add OAUTH Clients.  
  • Restrict Password set/change rights, so that only selected Cobalt administrators can do this.

Security Enhancements

  • When deleting a user, remove the password.   This will make it safe for applications searching whole DIT as you can’t authenticate with a deleted user’s account. 
  • Security Clearance can be selected for any role or user, based on a configured catalogue.  This supports key M-Switch and Harrier feature to check clearances. 

Miscellaneous

  • When assigning a new email, search entire DIT for conflicts, not just Cobalt area.   This  helps SASL resilience
  • Can add Photos to Routed UAs and Organizations.  
  • Check References on Delete. Cobalt has a “References” button on user/role form that displays all references of a user/role.  On deleting, references are deleted as well.
  • Tool to check references to users in AD, so that when users in AD are deleted, dangling references can be picked up.
  • Remove default domain concept
  • On deletion of domain in Cobalt, give option to delete all the domain data
  • Option to end all  cobalt logged in sessions of an operator, to allow an operator to logout from all browsers with a single action
  • There is also an option for an operator with appropriate rights  to end sessions of another Cobalt operator.

Icon-5066 3.0 – New Capabilities

We are thrilled to announce the latest update to our STANAG 5066 server, Icon-5066. With this new release, we’ve incorporated a host of exciting features and enhancements, designed to not only add new functionality to your deployment but also increase the performance of your HF Radio Network.

The below is a list of the changes, and updates that can be found within Icon-5066 v3.0.

ALE Management

This major new feature enables management of ALE configuration independent of ALE implementation and allows easy sharing of configuration between nodes.  This capability is supported for modems where Isode provides ALE support.  Key features:

  • Web configuration of HF Network for each Icon-5066 node.
  • Configuration of Node ALE addressing, with support for 2G, 3G and 4G.
  • Support for fixed frequency (not using ALE for a network)
  • Configuration of HF Frequency list with options for narrowband and wideband
  • Configuration of schedules for used with ALE or fixed frequency.   This enables the frequencies used to be changed at configured times so that appropriate frequencies are used for an ALE network throughout the 24 hour cycle.
  • Import/Export of configuration, to enable easy sharing of configuration between nodes.   Model is that you configure ALE setup on one node and the transfer to other nodes.

Security

Two important security enhancements are included:

  1. Use of OAuth to control which operators can access Icon-5066.
  2. Support of TLS which includes:
    1. HTTPS Web Access
    2. TLS Support for GCXP to support Modem Proxy (crypto bypass) across a Red/Black boundary
    3. Web configuration of PKI setup of TLS

STANAG 5066 Ed4 Compliance

Icon-5066 is compliant to STANAG 5066 Ed4.   An overview of Ed4 is here.   Detailed Icon-5066 compliance is specified here

Most of these capabilities were in the previous release, but described as STANAG 5066 proposed extensions.   Interoperability has been tested with another Ed4 implementation.

SNR Monitor

A new option is provided to configure Icon-5066 as a modem monitor with a simple TCP monitoring protocol.  This is a general purpose capability, but is specifically targeted to support the ACP 127 FAB (Frequency Assignment Broadcast) capability in M-Switch to enable the FAB broadcast to report on measured link quality using a modem at a remote location. 

New Modem/ALE Support

The following ALE capabilities are added:

  • 3G ALE support for RapidM RM8 and RM10.
  • 4G ALE support for RapidM RM10

A new “Raw TCP” data option, which sends and receives data over simple TCP connection.   This generic capability can be used to exchange data with RapidM RM10 modem.

Management

Support for independent control of multiple STANAG 5066 nodes, so that on a system with multiple nodes nodes can be independently enabled and disabled by the Icon-5066 operator.

Red/Black Driver

A driver is provided for Isode’s Red/Black product to monitor Icon-5066.   Like the Red/Black driver for Isode supported Modems, this driver is distributed with Icon-5066, but will be picked up by a collocated Red/Black server.   It enables a Red/Black operator to enable/disable an Icon-5066 node and to monitor key parameters.

Product Activation

Icon-5066 servers are now controlled by Isode Product Activation.  This control includes:

  • Optional enabling of TLS.  This is helpful for export.
  • Control of the number of nodes available

Successfully Managing HF Radio Networks

With the potential for new technologies to cause interference to traditional communications networks and even space itself at the risk of becoming weaponised, it is important to make sure that you always have a backup plan for your communications ready and waiting.

Should the worst happen and your primary network, typically SatCom, go down you need to ensure that you can still communicate with your forces wherever they are, and that communication needs to be fast,  simple and reliable. It also needs to be suitable for operation within degraded and denied environments.

That’s where HF Radio has a distinct advantage, utilising the ionosphere itself to relay communications and long-range radio signals. If you’re interested you can read more about the benefits of communications over HF Radio and how Isode is developing HF technology here.

When implementing new technologies, one of the challenges you can always expect to face is how you manage them and control how the important systems connect with one another. For HF Radio, that has always been a factor limiting its deployment, how do you ensure that mobile units remain connected to your HF network as they move from one location to the next?

This can now be done by our latest HF Radio enhancement product, Icon Topo. 

Icon Topo is a state of the art, web-based management system for HF Radio networks. The management system allows an operator to monitor and control the location of Mobile Units such as ships or aircraft, ensuring that as they move from one HF Access Point to another they can remain connected to your communications network.

The Icon Topo system allows you to manage your Mobile Units across multiple HF Networks, and plan a connection route for them as they do so, all from an easy forms-based interface. Removing any interruptions to service or downtime from applications as the MU moves across its intended path.

You can read more on Icon Topo here.

Alongside our HF management system, we have also recently developed our Red/Black solution to manage encrypted data over HF networks.

Red/Black is a Web-based server that can provide control and monitoring of different devices and servers. This is intended to complement, not replace, primary device management tools. Red/Black servers can operate in a pair, to monitor and control devices across a secure boundary.

Our Red/Black servers are designed to support HF radio systems through the display and management of communication chains, as seen below. They allow separation of, and passage for encrypted information across restricted networks from a ‘high’ side to a ‘low’ side. 

You can read more about our Red/Black solution here

The above two products give you full oversight over your HF networks so that you can be confident you will retain complete control over what gets to connect to your HF network and how exactly they do it.

If you’d like more information on our HF products, or are interested in a product demo then get in touch with us on sales@isode.com, alternatively you can fill out a contact form on our website and one of our team will get back to you.