TECH BRIEF

Cisco Phones get FIPS 140-2 encryption certs

Wireless IP phones get FIPS 140-2 approval

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has certified the Cisco 7921G and 7925G wireless IP phones as having appropriately secured cryptographic modules for operating in sensitive government communications.

Specifically, the phones have earned Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification from the NIST Cryptographic Module Validation Program. FIPS is a set of requirements published by NIST for establishing the baseline security of encryption modules. NIST also validates products as meeting the FIPS requirements.

According to Cisco, these two models are the first wireless IP-based phones to get FIPS 140-2 certification. This means two individuals could talk with one another, both using wireless Cisco phones, and their communications, which would take place over an IP network, would be secure to the FIPS 140-2 standard.

The phones use the Secure Real-time Transport Protocol, which the Defense Department has mandated for the use of unified communications systems starting in July 2010. The wireless IP phones can be integrated with Cisco's other unified communications products, such as its video conferencing and virtual meeting systems.

The FIPS-approved algorithms that the phone's cryptographic modules use include the Advanced Encryption Standard, the Hash Message Authentication Code, the Triple Digital Encryption Standard and others.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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