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July 8, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:09pm

NSA ASKS SUN & RUSSIAN ELVIS+ TO HAND OVER ENCRYPTION CODE

By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc was tight-lipped yesterday about reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has asked Sun and its Russian partner, the strangely-named Elvis+, & Co to hand over the source code for Elvis+’s Secure Virtual Private Network software, which Sun intends to sell under the name Skip E+. It is based on Sun’s SKIP Simple Key Management for Internet Protocol technology. When Sun licensed the software from the Russian company earlier this year, and took a 10% stake in Elvis+, others in the software industry accused Sun of trying to skirt the government’s export restrictions for encryption software because Sun intended to import the Skip E+ software into the US. Sun said this was nonsense, but it obviously attracted the attention of the NSA. Skip E was said to include 56-bit encryption software, and the limit for export without a special license is 40-bit, which is deemed totally insecure by the internet community -the 40-bit code was cracked recently in three hours by a student. But now the government is handing out 128-bit encryption export licenses quite regularly. Sun is a long-time critic of the government’s policy on exporting software that includes encryption technology. The NSA, Sun and Elvis+ are currently talking about how much source code the companies should hand over.

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