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InfoGuard
InfoGuard AG is a Swiss company that currently specialises – in their own words – in innovative network solutions and comprehensive cyber security, based in Baar (Zug, Switzerland). InfoGuard was once a subsidary of Crypto AG, and – temporarily – a joint venture between Crypto AG and Ascom. On 25 January 2018, it was announced that a management buy-out had taken place [3].



History
The company was founded on 5 February 1988 as a commercial startup by well-known crypto manufacturer Crypto AG (CAG – Hagelin) in Zug (Switzerland) [1]. It was the intention of Crypto AG — who only sold to governments — to use InfoGuard AG as an 'independent' vehicle for selling crypto gear to the commercial market, at a time when the company was jointly owned by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the West-German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) [2]. Within the CIA and the BND, InfoGuard AG was known by the cryptonym AURORA [3].

Ascom
In 1989, InfoGuard became a joint venture between Crypto AG and Ascom, that concentrated on selling Ascom Radiocom radios with CAG crypto. The joint venture had been rushed into place, as Ascom was about to be taken over by Gretag – another Swiss crypto manufacturer – and the US National Security Agency (NSA) feared that the company would enter the commercial market with unfriendly 1 equipment. By giving Crypto AG control over the crypto, this could be prevented.

The newly established joint venture was located across the street from Crypto AG (CAG) and was largely controlled by CAG, who held the majority of the shares. 2 The development department consisted of five CAG engineers, headed by Joerg Spoerndli (who was unwitting of any CIA/BND involvement). It was decided by the CIA and BND that InfoGuard would sell readable equipment to all customers, with the exception 3 of Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and commercial banks [3].

By 1989, InfoGuard had sold little and became a financial burden to its shareholders: Crypto AG and Ascom. In 1990, Ascom pulled out of the deal and on 1 January 1991, Crypto AG took over Ascom's shares, after which InfoGuard became a wholly-owned Crypto AG subsidary again. The research and development team quietly rejoined Crypto AG and the name InfoGuard AG was kept as a legal entity for possible future activities.

Management buyout
In a press release of 25 January 2018, it was announced that as of 1 February 2018, InfoGuard would no longer be a subsidary of Crypto AG, but an independent company, as a result of a management buyout lead by Robert Schlup, Giuliano Otth (then CEO of Crypto AG) and Thomas Meier. The latter became the new CEO of InfoGuard [3]. InfoGuard appears to be affiliated with CyOne Security AG, another Crypto AG management buyout led by the same three people as InfoGuard. CyOne operates in the same cyber security market as InfoGuard.

  1. In this context, unfriendly means that the cryptographic algorithms would not be breakable by NSA. Also known as unreadable. In contrast: algorithms that are breakable by NSA, are called friendly or readable.
  2. 765 of the 1500 shares.
  3. BND tried to argue for exceptions – specifically for France and The Netherlands – but the CIA was unwilling to comply. They were prepared however, to consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis. In practice, no exceptions were made, and InfoGuard even sold readable equipment to the three excepted countries [3].

Known address
  • InfoGuard AG
    Lindenstraße 10
    6340 Baar
    Switzerland
    Phone: +41 (0)41 749 19 00
    Website: www.infoguard.ch
References
  1. Commercial Register, Kanton Zug, InfoGuard AG
    Retrieved December 2019.

  2. Crypto Museum, Operation RUBICON
    February 2020.

  3. InfoGuard, Management Buy Out by InfoGuard
    Press release, 25 January 2018.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 08 December 2019. Last changed: Tuesday, 25 February 2020 - 07:13 CET.
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