What is NSA Type 1 Encryption?

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An NSA Type 1 encryption product is a device or system certified by the National Security Agency (NSA) for use in cryptographically securing classified United States Government (USG) information, when appropriately keyed. The USG classified data may range from Confidential to Secret to Top Secret.

The term “Type 1” refers only to products and not to information, keys, services, or controls. Type 1 products contain NSA-approved algorithms. Two families of algorithms are used: one classified and one public.

What Are NSA Type 1 Devices?

NSA Type 1 devices are available to USG users, their contractors, and federally sponsored non-U.S. Government activities subject to export restrictions in accordance with International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR). As cryptographic security devices, Type 1 encryptors are communications security (COMSEC) equipment. For effective COMSEC, sound cryptographic systems must be combined with transmission security, physical security, and emission security.

For decades, Type 1 was the only NSA cybersecurity designation regarding encryption. However, there is now an alternative in the NSA’s commercial encryption program: Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC). Each program has advantages and disadvantages, but both are fully supported NSA programs. This white paper offers a comparison of CSfC and Type 1.

The NSA spends many millions of dollars every year to develop Type 1 equipment. These Type 1 devices are not publicly known or available for general use. Many Type 1 data at rest products are developed by commercial companies (like L3Harris, General Dynamics, and ViaSat) and are generally publicly known and advertised. In both development processes, very strict requirements are applied, and these requirements are classified. For a new NSA Type 1 device to be developed, normally the sponsorship by a significant program of record is essential for both funding and eliciting NSA support.

The use of Type 1 devices is also controlled by very strict requirements. Type 1 devices may be considered classified themselves and thus may require special handling, including transporting, securing, and storing. Serious consequences may apply for loss of a Type 1 device. Login or register to learn more.