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1829 Dec 2015 - 17:40ThomasMisa 
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BLACKER was the first computer-network security project -- and only the second project of any kind -- to achieve the "top" Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC) A1 rating, which it earned in 1991. A U.S. Department of Defense project conducted jointly by System Development Corporation or SDC (software) and Burroughs (hardware), BLACKER was the first end-to-end trusted encryption system on the U.S. Defense Data Network (DDN). (1)

BLACKER began in the late 1970s and by the late 1980s it produced four devices that were manufactured by the military systems division of Unisys. (In 1980 SDC was sold to Burroughs, and in 1986 Burroughs and Sperry merged to form Unisys.) (1) The BLACKER front end (BFE) was an encryption box that sat between the host computer and the packet switched network. (2) The BLACKER Initialization-parameters Carrier (BIC), a "cigarette-box sized" removable device, provided host-specific operational and security parameters. The two other devices controlled the permissions for message exchange (Access Control Center) and handled the distribution of security keys (Key Distribution Center).(2)

BLACKER employed the Bell-LaPadula security model, where a DDN computer served as a "subject," and the encrypted connection to a second host was the "object." However, applying the Bell-LaPadula model to network security was not a straigtforward process. These difficulties, in part, marked the end of the dominance of the Bell-LaPadula model in computer security.(3)(4)

BLACKER was implemented on the DDN using a Cisco Systems DDN X.25. The front-end encryption (BFE) allowed host machines to communicate securely over unsecured packet-switched networks, The virtual network between the BFE-secured machines was called the "Red" network. The packet-switched network, carrying both the secured BFE traffic as well as unsecured traffic was called the "Black" network.(5)

Blacker DDN diagram (from Weissman 1992):


1 : Donald MacKenzie, Mechanizing Proof: Computing, Risk, and Trust (MIT Press, 2001), 181, 190-191.

2 : lock Clark Weissman, BLACKER: Security for the DDN Examples of A1 Security Engineering Trades IEEE Computer Society Symposium on Research in Security and Privacy (IEEE, 1992), 286. (Login required)

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Topic revision: r10 - 22 Jul 2014 - 14:07:17 - ThomasMisa
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