Controlled Cryptographic Item

Definition of Controlled Cryptographic Item

A Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI) refers to a piece of secure communication equipment or hardware component that uses encryption methods to protect sensitive information. These items are subject to strict regulation and oversight by governmental or military entities to prevent unauthorized access or use. Examples of CCI include encryption keys, algorithms, and specific cryptographic devices.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Controlled Cryptographic Items (CCI) are secure communication equipment, components, or ancillary devices utilized to protect classified or sensitive information from unauthorized access or interception.
  2. CCI are typically subject to strict security regulations and guidelines, including proper handling, storage, and control procedures, to prevent their loss, theft or compromise.
  3. Examples of CCI include cryptographic modules, encryption devices, and key management systems, among others. Employing CCI in an organization’s communication systems is an essential step in maintaining information security and safeguarding sensitive data.

Importance of Controlled Cryptographic Item

Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI) is a crucial term in technology, particularly in the realm of data protection and information security.

As the name suggests, it refers to a piece of equipment or software that possesses cryptographic capabilities, designed to safeguard classified and sensitive data from unauthorized access, tampering, and theft.

CCIs are essential components in constructing robust, secure communication networks and ensuring that information exchange remains private, confidential, and secure.

Given the exponential increase in digital interactions and cyber threats in modern society, CCIs have become indispensable in safeguarding invaluable assets including financial data, personal information, and even state secrets, thus playing a critical role in maintaining overall security, privacy, and trust in the digital world.


Controlled Cryptographic Items (CCI) play a crucial role in safeguarding and maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information within communication systems. These items refer to hardware, software, or firmware that employ encryption algorithms to shield critical information from unauthorized access. The primary purpose of CCIs is to protect various forms of data, including voice and video transmissions, messages, and digital files, by regulating access and ensuring secure transmission through encryption methods.

This functionality is pivotal in various sectors such as defense, finance, and telecommunications, where the confidentiality, authenticity, and non-repudiation of data are of paramount importance. CCIs also contribute to secure communication networks by managing cryptographic keys, algorithms, and authentication processes necessary for a stable and protected communication environment. They provide essential tools that organizations can leverage to ensure secure, encrypted connections over public or private networks.

Additionally, CCIs help prevent eavesdropping, data tampering, and other security breaches that could put sensitive information at risk. To guarantee their effectiveness and mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, the distribution and handling of CCIs are often subject to strict controls and regulations. In summary, Controlled Cryptographic Items serve a vital role in securing information and communication infrastructure, paving the way for safer, more trustworthy digital environments.

Examples of Controlled Cryptographic Item

A Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI) is a secure communication device or system used by authorized personnel to transmit and receive sensitive information while protecting it from unauthorized access, tampering, or interception. Here are three real-world examples of CCIs:

Secure Mobile Communications: Certain devices, like secure smartphones and radios, are designed with integrated encryption functionalities. Military personnel, government officials, and intelligence agents can use these devices to communicate securely without information interception risks. An example is the Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME-PED), which incorporates secure voice and data communications using classified cryptographic algorithms.

Hardware Security Modules (HSMs): An HSM is a secure, tamper-resistant device used to protect sensitive information like encryption keys in various applications. Financial institutions and organizations that handle large amounts of sensitive data use HSMs to safeguard their critical systems. These modules help encrypt credit card transactions during point-of-sale purchases and secure the operations of critical systems like public key infrastructure (PKI) and digital certificate management.

Secure Communications in Aviation: Communication between pilots, air traffic controllers, and ground crews is crucial for flight safety. Many modern aircraft, particularly military aircraft, are equipped with encrypted communication systems to protect sensitive conversations from unauthorized personnel or foreign adversaries. For instance, the HAVE QUICK II frequency-hopping system is an example used by the U.S. military to ensure secure and jam-resistant aircraft-to-aircraft and aircraft-to-ground communications.

Controlled Cryptographic Item FAQ

What is a Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI)?

A Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI) is a piece of cryptographic equipment or hardware that is subject to strict government regulations due to its sensitive nature. These items are designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) and require special handling and protection procedures.

Why are CCIs designated as controlled items?

CCIs are controlled because they possess the capability to secure critical and sensitive information (e.g., classified or personal data). Due to their importance in safeguarding such information, strict control measures are put in place to prevent unauthorized access, tampering, or theft of the cryptographic equipment.

What are the regulations around handling and storing CCIs?

Handling and storing CCIs is governed by a set of guidelines determined by the National Security Agency (NSA), outlining proper procedures for the transportation, storage, and disposal of the equipment. These guidelines are designed to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, tampering, or theft, and must be followed by any organization handling CCIs.

Who is responsible for managing CCI-related security?

The management of CCI-related security is a shared responsibility between the organization handling the equipment and the National Security Agency (NSA). Proper handling and storage guidelines must be followed by the organization, while the NSA is responsible for creating and maintaining such guidelines and monitoring the equipment’s security overall.

How do I know if an item is considered a CCI?

An item is considered a CCI if it has been designated as such by the National Security Agency (NSA). Typically, the NSA will label the equipment or hardware with a specific code, which indicates its status as a CCI. If in doubt, consult the NSA or appropriate government agency for clarification on the item’s status.

Related Technology Terms

  • Encryption Algorithms
  • Key Management
  • Cryptographic Hardware
  • Secure Communication Protocol
  • Cipher Suite

Sources for More Information


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