2014 David A. Garfinkel Essay Contest Resources: Abbreviations, Acronyms and Laws

Transmission of Classified Information

TCP/IP – Internet protocol suite
This networking model describes how data should be formatted, addressed, transmitted, routed and received among the various departments of the US government.

SIRPNet – Secret Internet Protocol Router Network
SIPRNet a network transmitting classified information between the US Department of Defense and the US Department of State using packet switching over TCP/IP. It operates within a completely secure internet network among a system of computers that hold the information.

JWICS – Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System
This system of interconnected computer networks permits the transmission of classified information by packet switching over TCP/IP among the US Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

CCI – Controlled Cryptographic Item
A CCI telecommunicates or handles coded information securely for the US National Security Agency for equipment or items which perform a critical communication security (COMSEC) function.

Handling Caveats

FOUO – For Official Use Only
Documents or products labeled with “FOUO” are exempt from the disclosure permitted by the Freedom of Information Act.

NOFORN – No FOReign National access allowed
This abbreviation limits access to a document only to US citizens under all circumstances, even if the non-citizen seeking the information obtains clearance or another form of permission.

The dissemination or release of an “ORCON” document is controlled by its producer.

This label cautions outsiders that the document involves proprietary information.

NFIBONLY – National Foreign Intelligence Board Departments Only

Two backslashes typically separate the caveat classifications of a document. The final summary marking of a document may appear as: SECRET//<compartment name>//ORCON/NOFORN

Types of Classified Information

RD – Restricted Data
The U.S. Department of Energy marks Restricted Data as information describing the composition or utilization of atomic weapons, production of special nuclear material, or production of energy through the use of special nuclear material.

FRD – Formerly Restricted Data
No longer under the Restricted Data category, FRD still operates as classified information under the DOE and Department of Defense. The data regards the military utilization of atomic weapons.

CNWDI – Critical Nuclear Weapon Design Information
Classifying as Top Secret and Secret Restricted Data for the U.S. Department of Defense, CNWDI (pronounced ”Sin-Widdy”) describes the composition and performance of a thermonuclear or fission bomb, warhead, demolition munition, or test device. Top secret information includes modes of arming, fuzing, and firing the weapons, as well as how many of these materials the U.S. government owns and prepares.

SCI – Sensitive Compartmented Information
Classified information regarding intelligence sources, methods, and analytical practices, known as sensitive compartmented information, can only be accessed through control systems established by the Director of National Intelligence.


FOIA – Freedom of Information Act
This act, originally signed by Lyndon B Johnson in July 1966, allows for the government to release previously confidential information upon the request of a member of the public, if the requestor can indicate specifically the classified document that he or she seeks. If the government declines the request, the person may take the case to the courts. Nonetheless, the act does not require the government to release information; the court may rule that the document is too sensitive for disclosure.

Espionage Act of 1917
Soon after becoming involved in World War I, on June 15 the U.S. passed the Espionage Act of 1917 not only to prevent the support of U.S. enemies during wartime, but also to ensure obedience of authorities and prohibit interference with military operations or recruitment. Edward Snowden, whistleblower and former NSA contractor, was recently charged with offenses under the Act.

Former Code Words

Revealed to the public in June 2013 in a publication by The Guardian, this codeword represented the program formed by George W. Bush after 9/11 to describe operations of the electronic surveillance program.

The code name for a 2010 hacking operation wherein the NSA intercepted emails between an ally and an adversary. The U.S. found that the American ally was “spear-phishing” – sending official-looking emails that in fact stored malware allowing hackers inside.

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