Controlled Cryptographic Item

What Does Controlled Cryptographic Item Mean?

A Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI) is a secure cryptographic component or hardware that performs a critical security communication function. CCIs are defined by the National Security Agency (NSA).


CCI components that are associated with cryptographic logic are classified, including related programs. CCIs follow prescribed regulations but are not always classified.

Techopedia Explains Controlled Cryptographic Item

An example of a cryptographic CCI component is cryptographic logic hardware, such as a printed circuit board. Normally, a security clearance is not required for unkeyed CCIs, which are assigned to custodians or other personnel that do not require a location escort. Only U.S. employees holding classified keys have key CCI access.

The NSA groups encrypted items into four different types:

  • Type 1: Sensitive or classified U.S. government information
  • Type 2: Unclassified and encrypted equipment for government information that requires safeguarding due to data sensitivity
  • Type 3: Algorithms for sensitive and unclassified information that is either owned by the U.S. government or commercially endorsed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Type 3 items are registered and published by the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS).
  • Type 4: Algorithms that are NIST registered but not published by FIPS

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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.