TEMPEST Desktop PC
The TCQ-350 is a TEMPEST-shielded PC,
manufactured by US-Defense contractor
DRS Technologies Inc.
in Columbia (USA) around 1997 as part of the TCQ series.
It was sold in Europe by DRS in the UK.
The machine was intended for highly classified computer use, such as
cryptography, and was a NATO-recommended product .
It is no longer in production.
At the heart of the computer is a Compaq EN motherboard with a 450 MHz
(or higher) Pentium II processor with suitable memory and an AGP video card.
For storage, an internal IDE harddisc was present,
alongside a shielded floppy disc drive.
External storage was possible through the built-in SCSI interface.
The image on the right shows a typical TCQ-350 machine with
its protective door open showing the built-in CD-ROM drive.
At the left is the shielded floppy disc drive.
From the unit shown here, the top lid has been removed.
Connecting a PC to a network (e.g. Ethernet and/or the internet) is always
a safety risk, especially when operating in a secure environment.
For this reason, the TCQ has a built-in
Optical Fiber interface, which isolates the
built-in 10/100 Mb ethernet interface galvanically from the network.
This avoids unwanted leakage of information to the outside world (side channel
The computer is housed in a sturdy case which is heavily shielded. The top
lid is held in place by a large number of screws, and a series of metal
contact strips is used to ensure that the case is 'air tight' from an HF point
of view. This is done in order to avoid unwanted eminations, such as HF radio
signals 'escaping' from the case (TEMPEST),
potentially giving away sensitive information.
In order to protect the data inside the computer and any possible
cryptographic keys, the machine has a built-in
which is held down by a stub in top lid.
Whenever the top lid is removed, the tamper switch is activated and the
software can take appropriate steps.
DRS produced TEMPEST PCs
and rugged laptops from the mid-1990s
to the early 2000s. Over the years, different versions with faster
processors and more memory were produced. In 1999, DRS secured an order
from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the production of TEMPEST PCs
based on the Sun UltraSPARC2 .
DRS is still in business today (2011) and produces a wide range of
equipment for the US Department of Defense .
Any links shown in red are currently unavailable.
If you like the information on this website, why not make a donation?|
© Crypto Museum. Last changed: Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 01:29 CET.