How SCIFs Protect Classified and Proprietary Phone Calls

Many in the security field focus on securing data networks against hackers and viruses, but voice conversations often require the highest level of protection too. For government agencies and contractors, the need is obvious: having the ability to discuss classified information in full confidence that it will not be overheard or intercepted.

What is a SCIF?

This is where a SCIF comes in: a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Typically, this is a purpose-built room in a building, or a portable enclosure, where sensitive phone conversations can take place in complete privacy. SCIFs are accredited for use by the Federal government with standards defined by the defense and intelligence communities.

SCIF construction: The details matter

To achieve this level of security, SCIF defines building requirements that greatly exceed those achieved by typical commercial construction. Walls, ceilings, and floors, for example, must be constructed so that they will reveal evidence of unauthorized entry or tampering. Special materials must be used on these surfaces to prevent leakage of electromagnetic or radio frequencies that might be collected by bad actors. The surfaces can even be “hardened” with noise generators that radiate a blend of frequencies to produce a sound like running water.

All telephone, electrical power, security systems, data, and emergency systems must be dedicated to and contained within the SCIF. Where the conduit for any of these systems penetrates the SCIF perimeter, they must be hardened to minimize the chance of compromise.

The SCIF door and frame assembly also must prevent signal leakage, as well as meet local building and safety codes. The doors must employ two access control technologies: one for daily use and one for secure lock up when the SCIF is unattended.

Cabling and network infrastructure

In the case of structured cabling and network infrastructure, projects must follow the security specifications required to receive site survey certification and approval. Each aspect of the network requires special attention, including:

  • Shield Twisted Pair / Fiber / Hybrid Infrastructure
  • Wire-ways / Conduit / Transport
  • Cabinets / Main Distribution Frame / Communications Closet
  • Station Drops / Cabling
  • Labeling / Inspection / Administration

Secure TSG-6 certified phones

The phones within the SCIF must meet the JITC Unified Capabilities certification for Assured Services SIP End Instruments.

Putting it all together

The growing number of attacks on government and enterprise data networks, their increasing sophistication and persistence, and the emergence of a new breed of cyber criminals intent on inflicting as much damage as possible all point to the need for tighter security measures. When it comes to protecting sensitive voice communications, federal agencies and contractors have come to rely on a proven solution – SCIF.

Partnering with an experienced technology provider can streamline the accreditation process, prevent implementation delays, and facilitate the safe discussion of classified information. Contact CTS today: 800.787.4848 or


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