:"Fortezza is also the Italian name for Franzensfeste, a town in Italy"

Fortezza is an information security system based on a PC Card security token. Each individual who is authorized to see protected information is issued a "Fortezza card" that stores private keys and other data needed to gain access. It contains an NSA-approved security microprocessor called "Capstone" (MYK-80) that implements the Skipjack encryption algorithm.

The Fortezza card is becoming wider in use in Government and Military applications due to the fact that the cards are interchangeable within the many types of equipment that support Fortezza. Likewise, this means that the parties that program the Fortezza cards are able to program the cards and ship them out so organizations may use them in whatever equipment they need to use it for. This simplifies the process of rekeying equipment for Crypto changes: instead of requiring an expensive Fill device, a technician is able to put a new Fortezza card in the device's PCMCIA slot.

Fortezza was developed for the U.S. Government's ill-fated Clipper chip project, but is widely used by the U.S. Government. The original Fortezza card (KOV-8) is a Type 2 product which means it cannot be used for classified information. The most widely used Type 1 encryption card is the KOV-12 Fortezza card which is used extensively for the Defense Message System (DMS). The KOV-12 is cleared up to TOP SECRET/SCI. A later version, called KOV-14 or Fortezza Plus, uses a Krypton microprocessor that implements stronger, Type 1 encryption and may be used for information classified up to TOP SECRET/SCI. It, in turn, is being replace by the newer KSV-21 PC card with more modern algorithms and additional capabilities.

The Fortezza Plus card and its successors are used with NSA's Secure Terminal Equipment voice encryption systems that are replacing the STU-III. It is manufactured by the Mykotronx Corporation and by Spyrus. Each card costs about $240 and they are commonly used with card readers sold by Litronic Corporation.


[ SafeNet web site (Mykotronx is a division of SafeNet)]

[ Spyrus web site]

[ Litronic web site]

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