High security computing; was: Re: FrameMaker X can ONLY be activated over the internet

Subject: High security computing; was: Re: FrameMaker X can ONLY be activated over the internet
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2011 10:05:27 +0200

In what now passes for pre-history, I was director of marketing and sales for a very small company that launched the first purpose-built 486 PC. I became involved with some folks in Virginia who began to modify our boxes so they could become certified for high-security operations--something which is called "TEMPEST" certification: http://www.nsa.gov/applications/ia/tempest/index.cfm

That involved, among other things, using fully shielded cables and moving the cable attachments inside the outer metal computer case--among many other things. At one point, a box which was running one particular version of Windows NT received certification at level 3 (level 1 being highest, IIRC). Note that a particular machine must be certified with specific software; upgrade or change the software and it must be re-certified. Nevertheless, our friends at Microsoft began to advertise at various trade shows that "Windows NT is a TEMPEST certified operating system"--which of course was totally untrue and nonsense to anyone who understood the process.

That said, a top-level certified machine needed no external Faraday cage as it simply did not radiate meaningfully.

However, a fully shielded room would be far simpler and cheaper if more than one machine needs to be run in a secure environment.


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