Govt depts pick up customisable encryption boxes

A New Zealand company has developed an encryption product which lets organisations use their own encryption algorithms instead of public keys.

After 18 months of development CES Communications has released SQ-Phoenix, a box which sits between the telephone, PC or fax machine and the network and encrypts voice, fax and data communications. It can be customised to each client.

So far two government departments have bought the product and CES is also preparing to submit the SQ-Phoenix for evaluation under the Australasian Information Security Evaluation Programme, which tests security products to predefined government standards.

CES product manager Sarah Macann wouldn't reveal the name of the government departments, but says they are mainly using the product for encrypting faxes.

She says the main difference between this and other encryption products is that it gives users the ability to use their own algorithms which isn't usually the case. There is also flexibility in managing keys so that different groups of people within an organisation can use different keys.

Although SQ-Phoenix supports 128-bit encryption, it can be customised if clients want to use 256-bit keys.

A standard unit costs $US1800 and a customised unit is $2350.