8 key aspects of military messaging for secure communication

Sara Ana Cemazar
February 1, 2024
min read

Secure military messaging is key for many institutions and states today. Heard of 'Ruse de guerre'? It's a term for the art of deception in warfare — think of the Trojan Horse, a classic example of battlefield cunning that turned the tide of war. 

History is packed with moments where smart, unorthodox strategies outplayed brute force.

Fast forward to 2024, and the battlefield has transformed. Today, it's the digital landscape where the wars are waged, particularly in the realm of secure military messaging. 

Just as the clever strategists of the past used surprise and ingenuity to their advantage, modern defense operations rely on the utmost secrecy and security in communication to outmaneuver threats.

Cyber threats are the new enemy, targeting government and defense sectors with alarming precision. This makes locking down military communications with encrypted chat and top-notch security protocols not just wise — but mission critical. 

Let’s explore the specifics of military communication.

The specifics of communication in military and defense

Communications within the military and defense sectors are uniquely complex, demanding the highest levels of security, reliability, and adaptability to meet unique needs.

military messaging

The global military communications market is expected to grow from USD 24.2 billion in 2023 to USD 35.4 billion by 2028, demonstrating a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.9% during the forecast period​​.

Escalating security concerns primarily drive this growth, the evolving threat landscape, and the increasing adoption of new technologies. This includes the deployment of unmanned systems and the significant reliance on Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) for decision-making and resource allocation.

Here are the factors to be taken care of:

1. Adherence to data privacy regulations

Military communications are strictly governed by data privacy laws and regulations, ensuring that every message exchanged adheres to stringent standards.

For instance, in the U.S., military messaging systems comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines, which dictate how sensitive information must be encrypted and handled.

This ensures that operational plans remain confidential and secure, preventing unauthorized access and leaks.

2. Data security

Data security in military communications is non-negotiable. An example of this is the use of end-to-end encryption in messaging systems, a method that ensures messages are readable only by the sender and intended recipient.

The U.S. Department of Defense, for instance, employs advanced cryptographic protocols to safeguard classified and sensitive communications, thwarting cyber threats and espionage efforts.

3. Control over data 

Having control over data (data sovereignty) means ensuring that information can be managed, archived, or deleted securely by authorized personnel only.

A practical example is secure, military-grade communication platforms that allow for real-time monitoring and control of message dissemination, such as remotely wiping messages on lost devices, ensuring operational security even in compromised situations.

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4. Navigating difficult terrain

Military operations often take place in environments where traditional communication systems fail. 

Utilizing satellite communications (SATCOM) allows forces to maintain connectivity in remote or rugged terrains, exemplified by operations in mountainous regions, where line-of-sight communications are challenging but critical for mission success.

5. Ground operations

Effective communication is the backbone of ground operations, enabling coordination and strategic decision-making.

For example, during joint operations, interoperable communication systems allow units from different branches or nations to share real-time intelligence and status reports, enhancing operational efficiency and tactical advantage on the battlefield.

6. High latency network

High latency networks refer to communication systems with a significant delay between the transmission and receipt of data. This poses significant challenges in military communications, particularly in drone operations or satellite communications.

Drones rely on near-real-time data transmission to execute commands accurately and safely. At the same time, satellite communications are essential for global military operations, including navigation, intelligence gathering, and communication in remote or austere environments.

However, overcoming this is possible through implementing robust, secure communication protocols designed to handle delays. This ensures that even with high latency, critical commands and surveillance data are transmitted effectively, supporting operations in remote or contested environments.

Key features to look for in military messaging solutions

Selecting the most secure messaging solution is crucial for military's operational security and effectiveness, requiring features that ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of communications. These include:

1. Air gapping

Air gapping refers to isolating a computer or network from the internet and other unsecured networks, effectively creating a barrier against cyber threats.

An example is the use of air-gapped networks in secure facilities, where mission-critical systems are kept entirely offline to prevent espionage and cyber attacks. This ensures that sensitive communications and data remain inaccessible from external networks.

2. E2E encryption

End-to-end encryption (E2E encryption) is a method of securing digital communication to prevent unauthorized access by encrypting the data at its origin and decrypting it only at its destination.

In essence, it ensures that the content of the communication, such as messages, calls, or files, is transformed into a coded message at the sender's device and remains encrypted as it travels across any network or intermediary servers. This coded message can only be decrypted and read by the intended recipient's device.

For instance, military-grade messaging apps employ E2E encryption protocols like the Signal Protocol, ensuring that messages are encrypted on the sender's device and only decrypted on the recipient's device, making it impossible for intermediaries to access the content, even if the communication is intercepted.

3. Customizability

Customizability in military chat solutions allows for adaptation to specific operational requirements and integration with existing systems.

For instance, the development of customized messaging apps tailored for naval fleets, incorporating features like secure file sharing, real-time location tracking, and integration with shipborne communication systems, enhances coordination and response capabilities.

4. On-prem deployment

On-premises deployment means hosting the messaging service within the organization's data centers rather than in the cloud. This allows complete control over the infrastructure and data, which is crucial for operations requiring the highest security levels.

For example, the U.S. military might deploy a messaging system on-premises to ensure that sensitive operational data remains within its secure facilities, protected by physical and cyber defenses.

Learn more about on-prem:

5. Conversation history

Managing conversation history is critical for operational review and accountability. Military messaging solutions often feature secure storage and retrieval of conversation histories, with strict access controls and auditing capabilities.

An example includes a command center's ability to review past communications during debriefings or investigations. It ensures that all messages are timestamped, encrypted, and stored securely, with access limited to authorized personnel only, thus maintaining a clear and accountable record of communications.

6. Secure integrations to expand collaboration

Integrating secure, military-grade video conferencing and whiteboard solutions enables teams to collaborate more effectively, even in classified environments.

For example, secure video solutions allow for real-time strategy sessions between commanders in different locations, with encryption ensuring that discussions remain confidential.

Similarly, integrating secure whiteboard solutions facilitates joint operational planning, with all data encrypted and accessible only to authorized personnel, thus expanding collaboration while safeguarding sensitive information.


Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) integration is key for managing user identities and access within secure messaging systems. 

military messaging

LDAP allows for centralizing user authentication processes, making it easier to control access to the messaging system based on each user's credentials and security clearance.

For instance, a military organization might use LDAP to enable personnel to log in to the messaging system using their existing directory credentials, streamlining access management and ensuring that only authorized individuals can communicate through the platform.

8. Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security, ensuring that access to the military messaging system is protected against unauthorized use.

MFA significantly reduces the risk of compromised communications by requiring users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access, such as a password and a biometric verification or a one-time code sent to a mobile device.

An example of this is the implementation of MFA for access to communication networks in field operations, where verifying the identity of users is critical to maintaining operational security and integrity.

Secure military communication with Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is built to empower mission critical collaboration at every forefront.

Made with Defense and Military organizations in mind, Rocket.Chat allows to improve operational efficiency and safeguard sensitive information.

Reach out to our team to learn how you can use Rocket.Chat's comprehensive collaboration platform to securely communicate with mission-critical partners.

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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