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M-775   M-275
PCMCIA security card - MilsCard - wanted item

The M-775 was a cryptographic security module in the shape of a PCMCIA card, developed by Mils Elektronik in Mils (Austria) in the early 1990s. It added security to personal computers (PCs) and laptops and was used at the heart of secure communication systems and for data storage.

The small security module, or Key Module as it was called by Mils, was based on the PCMCIA standard, so that it could be used directly in the portable PCs (laptops) of the era. When used in combination with a desktop PC, a suitable interface had to be installed in the machine [1].

The image on the right shows a typical M-775 module (left) aside its interior (right). The unit consists of a tamper-proof security processor at the bottom right, with external memory [2]. The cryptographic keys are stored in volatile memory that is retained by the circular Lithium battery.
The Mils M-775 PCMCIA security module

During the 1990s, security modules were commonly implemented as PCMCIA cards, not only by Mils, but also by other manufactuers. Crypto AG (Hagelin), for example, introduced the HCM-2000 Security Module that was used at the heart of the HC-2203 telephone encryptor, whilst Philips developed the so-called V-Card. Around the same time, the American NSA developed a range of Fortezza Crypto Cards that ares still used with their Secure Terminal Equipment (STE).

In the late 1990s, The System 700 series was succeeded by the System 200 range of secure software products, that offered algorithm based security as well as Mils' famous One-Time Pad technology. The M-775 was renamed M-275 and was still used at the heart of these products.

In the early 2000s, PC manufacturers started moving away from the PCMCIA standard, in favour of newer standards such as USB. As a result, the PCMCIA slots gradually disappeared from the laptops and the M-775 was no longer considered practicle. It has since been succeeded by the backwards compatible M-286 USB stick which is based on the proprietary M-111 processor.

The Mils M-775 PCMCIA security module

  1. Wikipedia, PC Card
    Retrieved August 2013.

  2. Crypto Museum, Photograph of M-775 Key Card
    2 August 2013. Courtesy of Mils Electronic.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Tuesday 06 August 2013. Last changed: Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 14:38 CET.
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