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News Release


Release No: 316-98
June 23, 1998


The Department of Defense today announced the decision by the National Security Agency to declassify both the Key Exchange Algorithm and the SKIPJACK encryption algorithm used in the FORTEZZA(tm) personal computer card. FORTEZZA(tm) provides security at the desktop in the Defense Message System and other DoD applications. This marks the first time that the NSA has declassified such information and made it commercially available.

This declassification is an essential part of the Department of Defense's efforts to work with commercial industry in developing reasonably priced computer protection products. This declassification decision will enable industry to develop software and smartcard based security products, which are interoperable with FORTEZZA(tm). The availability of such products will enhance the protection of DoD's sensitive but unclassified and critical non-mission communications.

The decision to release SKIPJACK (an 80 bit encryption algorithm that is not extensible to higher key lengths) and KEA (a 1024 bit key exchange algorithm) is restricted to these particular algorithms, and does not apply to other classified NSA algorithms. The SKIPJACK and KEA algorithms and their source codes have been declassified pursuant to Executive Order 12958.

Vendors interested in obtaining more information on this matter should contact the National Security Agency Public Affairs Office at 301-688-6524.

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