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Fort Fox File Encryptor - wanted item

The Fort Fox File Encryptor (FFFE) was a hardware-based cryptographic device for sending secure files over any unclassified network. It was developed in 2003 by Fox-IT in Delft (Netherlands) and was based on the Philips V-Kaart application. It was approved up to the level of SECRET and was mainly intended for use by the Dutch Government [3]. The product was discontinued in 2012.

As the product was mainly intended for use by the Dutch Government, it was promoted as a replacement for the large teleprinter-based Philips AROFLEX [1]. The FFFE was implemented as a Type-II PCMCIA expansion card, which was the common standard on laptop PCs in the 1990s and the early 2000s. It allowed files to be encrypted and decrypted off-line.

The image on the right shows a typical FFFE being inserted into the PCMCIA slot of a laptop. The image was taken from the FFFE leaflet [1]. At present, no better image of an FFFE is available.

In order to use the card, a suitable software driver had to be installed on the laptop. The PCMCIA card itself contained the Philips-developed GCD-Φ or the later GCD-Φ 2000 crypto processor [5] (pronounced: GCD-PHI), and was tamper-resistant. Furthermore, the card's casing was tamper-evident and multiple additional checks were carried out by the software at runtime, to ensure that the system had not been tampered with. The FFFE has been approved by the NLNCSA (NBV) up to the level of SECRET (Stg. GEHEIM in Dutch terminology).

Although PCMCIA cards were commonly available on laptop PCs, they were generally not found on desktop PCs. In order to use FFFE on a desktop PC, a suitable PCMCIA adapter had to be installed. During the 2000s, the PCMCIA standard became less of a commodity, and by 2011 they were practically non-existent. As a result, the FFFE was gradually phased out [4].

Development of the card was started by Philips Crypto BV in 1997, with the Dutch Department of Defense (DoD), the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs as the main customers. As the largest (financial) contributor of the project was the DoD, they were also responsible for the functional specification, which they changed frequently.

Although development time was estimated at approx. two years, it would take much longer, whilst the DoD kept changing the functional specification. Finally, after much debate, the Government terminated the project in late 2001.

Once V-Kaart was terminated, Philips set out to develop a simpler version that would meet the requirements of the Dutch Government, this time without the DoD taking part in the project. The new product was called C-kaart and was based on the latest V-kaart development. It never reached production stage however.
Philips V-kaart (V-card)

After Philips Crypto BV closed down in 2003 due to lack of revenue, Fox-IT bought part of Philips' Intellectual Property (IP) and continued the development of the C-Kaart (and in fact: V-Kaart). After another design round and a full rewrite of the software, the product was released to the Dutch Government as the FFFE and has been used successfully until its end-of-life in 2012.

Immediately after the introduction of the FFFE card, Fox-IT started the development of the next generation of crypto chips. After a successful evaluation by the Dutch Security Agency AIVD, the new chip, called RedFox, was announced in 2005 [5]. Products based on RedFox were expected during the 2nd half of 2012, subject to approval by the NLNCSA (NBV) [2].

RedFox is available for (civil) third parties and contains a number of standard algorithms for Public Key Encryption (PKE), such as AES, SHA-256 and SHA-512. A special version of the chip, called RedFox GT, contains classified algorithms and is available for the Dutch Government only.

 More about RedFox

  1. Fox-IT, Fort Fox File Ecnryptor: FFFE
    Product leaflet. Retrieved January 2012.

  2. Fox-IT, RedFox Crypto chip
    Fox-IT website. Retrieved July 2012.

  3. AIVD, NBV, Goedgekeurde producten, FFFE (C-kaart Release 2)
    AIVD/NBV website. Retrieved July 2012.

  4. AIVD, NBV Nieuwsbrief, Vervanging van de FFFE
    NBV Nieuwsbrief, 2011 nr. 3. p. 6.

  5. NRC Handelsblad, Crypto-chip Red Fox... (Dutch)
    Crypto-chip RedFox gebruikt algoritmes om data te versleutelen en veilig te verzenden.
    1 December 2005. Retrieved July 2012.

  6. Fox Crypto, Handleiding voor FFFE kaart gebruikers
    20041107-01/FFFE. 17 February 2005. Unclassified. Dutch.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Saturday 21 July 2012. Last changed: Friday, 30 March 2018 - 08:45 CET.
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