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Fortezza

An authentication system endorsed by the National Security Agency that uses a PC Card as the authentication token. Fortezza is part of the U.S. government's GOSIP policy, and vendors must supply Fortezza-compliant products in order to win contracts. The Fortezza system uses the Skipjack encryption algorithm, implemented via an NSA-approved Capstone security chip. Skipjack superseded a 56-bit key based on DES encryption. The term means "fortress" in Italian. See Skipjack algorithm.



Skipjack algorithm

A symmetric cryptographic algorithm developed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). It is used in the Department of Commerce's Escrowed Encryption Standard (EES), which was embodied in the CLIPPER chip.

The key to the encrypted message is itself encrypted with a key combined from two escrowed keys. The encrypted key and an identifier of the chip that sent it is encrypted again with a "family key." In this way, a law enforcement agency can use the family key to decrypt the outer layer and glean the chip ID, which is used to obtain the two escrowed keys that are combined to decrypt the key that decrypts the message. Skipjack uses an 80-bit key to encrypt 64-bit blocks, but algorithm details are classified. See CLIPPER chip.



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