One method to protect computer data from hackers is an encryption chip. The most recent of these is called the Clipper, and it can be installed in telephones, faxes and computer circuitry. Basically, data sent over a communication device is processed by the chip, and sent to a receiving machine which interprets the information via its own chip. Anyone attempting to intercept data illegally outside of this two-way process will receive nonsense. However, as the government has the only “key” to this encryption chip, civil rights activists claim it is an infringement on the right to free speech.

This was written 4 years ago in a magazine so it is out of date, but I always find it interesting to see what people thought was advanced years ago.

A hardware cryptosystem developed by the National Security Agency as part of the US Government's failed attempts at imposing nationwide key escrow, along with the Capstone chip. It included the NSA-designed Skipjack block cipher and utilized a key exchange protocol similar to the one used by Kerberos (i.e. the Needham-Schroeder Protocol), modified to provide for key escrow. This is simpler than the Diffie-Hellman key exchange used by Capstone. It had a data encryption rate of 15-20 MB/second after key exchange, could be programmed to use a specific set of keys with the proper equipment, and designed to be resistant to reverse engineering even by sophisticated opponents.

The only significant application that ever used the Clipper chip were the AT&T commercial secure (yeah right!) voice products. It ultimately failed however, because of the availability of alternative strong cryptography without any kleptographic modifications.

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