TEMPEST

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What Does TEMPEST Mean?

TEMPEST was a classified project of the U.S. government designed to research how some devices like computers throw off electromagnetic radiation (EMR) that could compromise data security. These emanations are often called compromising emanations or compromising emissions.

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The term is used somewhat confusingly and incorrectly. Technically, TEMPEST is a coverword/codename but over the years has been used by some as an acronym for Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected from Emanating Spurious Transmissions.

Techopedia Explains TEMPEST

Any electronic equipment can produce emanations. These need to be protected so that sensitive information is not compromised. Compromising emanations are unintentional signals that are emitted from a device that can be gathered and therefore can disclose sensitive information.

A related term used by some branches of the military is emsec, which stands for emissions security. More recently, the term TECHSEC (TECHnical SECurity) has been used in a wider context.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

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.