NSA to declassify two security algorithms

The National Security Agency plans to declassify two computer security algorithms—- one of which is the Skipjack encryption algorithm used in Fortezza PC cards—- clearing the way for commercial firms to work with the Defense Department on security products such as smart cards.

This is the first time NSA, which has carefully guarded its data-scrambling algorithms from the public, has declassified such information and made it commercially available. In addition to the Skipjack algorithm, which was the technology the White House tapped in 1994 as being core to its Clipper Chip initiative, NSA will declassify its Key Exchange Algorithm, which is used for public-key technology.

The declassification is part of DOD's efforts to work with commercial industry in developing reasonably priced computer security products, according to the DOD announcement of the declassification. This decision will allow industry to develop software and smart cards that are interoperable with Fortezza, according to the statement.Fortezza provides security at the desktop for the Defense Message System and other DOD applications.

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