What exactly are SCIFs, and why do engineers need a variety of mil-spec shielding products when designing them?
SCIF’s are Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (pronounced “skiff”), a U.S. Department of Defense term for a secure room. It can be a secure room or data center that guards against electronic surveillance and suppresses data leakage of sensitive security and military information. SCIFs are used to deny unauthorized personnel, such as foreign intelligence services or corporate spies, the opportunity for undetected entry into facilities for the exploitation of sensitive activities.
U.S. military and intelligence entities worldwide use these protected, shielded enclosures to aggregate, analyze, and transmit sensitive compartmented information (SCI).
SCIFs are meticulously designed to be impervious to EMI and RFI from external sources. They must also be incapable of generating internal electromagnetic fields that might propagate sensitive information to external devices and actors.
Depending on the size and scope of the SCIF, there may also be multiple areas inside the enclosure with different levels of security. These areas must also be appropriately secured against potential EMI and RFI sources, signal emissions, and interference.
This level of information security requires the entire SCIF, including all openings, penetrations, and apertures, to be securely protected and sealed against internal and external transmissions, EMI, and RFI signals.
What are the criteria to consider with SCIF design?
Proper Shielding is required to protect internally generated sensitive information from being detected from outside a SCIF, segregate areas of varying security inside of a SCIF, and protect electronics components and devices inside the facility from external RFI and EMI sources. If the SCIF is a data center facility, individual devices in rack-type enclosures may also need to be protected and secured.
Proper electromagnetic shielding protects electronic systems within a SCIF that may generate internal electromagnetic fields that can potentially propagate confidential information. A SCIF without proper electromagnetic shielding can allow sensitive, protected information to be detected from outside or within different areas of the facility that are not secure, or less secure, than other areas. Conversely, a SCIF must be resistant to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, EMI, and RFI sources, located outside the facility.
What’s the bottom line? SCIFs require specialized conductive shielding products to protect and ensure the security of ventilation fans, ducts and raceways, viewing (windows), access and egress (doors), connector panels, structural seams, power and signal entry points, etc.
What types of shielding products and components are typically required for SCIF enclosures?
Designers use a number of shielding and gasket products to secure critical apertures, seams, doors, windows, ducts, vents, and other vulnerable connection points in SCIFs. These include:
- Honeycomb Ventilation Panels
- EMI Connector Gaskets
- Honeycomb Waveguide Panels
- EMI Grounding Washers
- Custom Gaskets of Various Sizes and Shapes
Are there additional design considerations with SCIFs related to shielding, RFI, and EMI?
The overarching design principle of any shielded enclosure is to provide a complete low impedance path allowing the electromagnetic field to propagate on the shielded enclosure’s surface (interior or exterior) by addressing all entry, exit, and structural apertures.
Designers must also be cognizant of TEMPEST (Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected from Emanating Spurious Transmissions) specifications when designing shielding for SCIFs.
Are there specifications and design guides available for SCIF shielding design?
Are you looking for a comprehensive source for specifying and sourcing SCIF enclosure shielding components? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
MAJR Products is an internationally recognized leader in designing and manufacturing shielding for SCIF enclosures and numerous other applications requiring EMI and RFI shielding products.
At MAJR Products, we understand the need for competitive pricing and lead times. We also offer consultative product and application design guides as well as assistance from our shielding experts.
Get in touch with us online, or simply click the “Request a Quote” button on the upper right-hand side of any product page. For more information, you can always call us at (877) 625-6033.