What describes how sensitive compartmented information is marked

Organizations, like people, need security to feel safe. When an organization’s information is kept safe, it’s considered secure. Organizations use a variety of methods to protect their information, but the most secure method is encryption. Encryption is the process in which data is converted into code. When encryption is used, only the person who has the code can derive the original information. With this, have you ever heard of Sensitive compartmented information? Let’s talk about sensitive information first.

Information: Highly Sensitive 

Sensitive information is any piece of information that could possibly be used to compromise a system or process and is classified accordingly. Sensitive information includes


  •  Names

  • Addresses

  • Phone Numbers

  • Social Security Numbers

  • Dates Of Birth

  • Dates Of Purchase or Registration of Government Vehicles

  • Driver’s License Numbers

  • Medical Information, Employee Performance Records

  • Bank And Credit Card Numbers


 Sensitive information isn’t the only secret out there. The term applies to any piece of information that is so private that you want it to be kept just that - private. The level of its sensitivity can also classify sensitive information. There are four levels:

  1. Confidential - Confidential is one of the levels of sensitivity of the information, including privacy, confidentiality, and security. Generally, the level of security is the same as the confidentiality. However, it may be of less importance for confidentiality and security.

  2. Secret - Secret information is known to only a few people and typically needs to be kept hidden. On the other hand, sensitive information is known to many but should be protected.

  3. Top Secret - Top secret is one of the sensitive information levels of its sensitivity. It is, in fact, the same as a level 4, which is deemed “Exactly what it says it is.” Top secret information deals with national security, military, intelligence, or law enforcement information.

  4. Special Compartmented Information (SCI) - Sensitive compartmented information, or SCI, is one of the most high-profile and far-reaching cybersecurity threats out there. While SCI is more of an issue in governments and other large organizations, smaller businesses are also at high risk of suffering from this silent threat. SCI works silently, and you need to protect it from intrusion at all points.

When sensitive information is accidentally exposed, employers need to be proactive to both reduce the likelihood of it happening again and mitigate any damage to the company’s brand. Topping the list of executive priorities should guarantee that sensitive information is protected. While you can’t control how employees work, you can implement simple security practices, like limiting access to computers and files, that can reduce the likelihood of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. No wonder there is already highly secured software that will help you keep files secure and private from the prying eyes of hackers. Let’s get to know more about SCI.

What Is Sensitive Compartmented Information?

Sensitive compartmented information is any piece of information that is considered highly secure. It is information that organizations need to keep confidential. Sensitive Compartmented Information is a US government security standard that impacts the secure handling of classified information.

Compartmentalizing information ensures that it maintains its integrity, confidentiality, and nondisclosure when information is processed and classified. The SCIF standard was originally developed to protect nuclear secrets but has since expanded to include information technology and telecommunications. In general, the SCIF standard applies to information classified as “confidential,”—meaning the information is so sensitive that its release is likely to be detrimental to the United States.

So, what Describes How SCI Is Marked?

Sensitive compartmented information represents some of the US government’s most secretive and classified information. This type of security classification requires a level of security that surpasses what normal documents require. Sensitive compartmented information (SCI) is classified and can only be performed by those with a top-secret or higher security clearance. In order to properly classify SCI, it must be given a FIPS PUB 180-4 or PUB 180-1 designation. The FIPS PUB 180-4 (PUB 180-4) classification system is used for unclassified SCI.

These documents are often marked with a “sensitive compartmented information (SCI) mark,” which is designed to comply with federal regulations. Because of this, sensitive information is usually marked with a special marking (such as an ‘s’), which identifies it to be sensitive. Sensitive compartmented information is often encoded with a password and, in some cases, sealed in a package.

Knowing More About SCI Control Systems 

Sensitive Compartmented Information Control Systems (SCACS), sometimes also called e-government, are computer systems that have been designed to store information securely. Their purpose is to enable secure information sharing among government agencies, organizations, and private companies.

Here are some of the control systems:

  • Special Intelligence or SI - Special intelligence is one of the sensitive compartmented information control systems (SCICS). SCICS is a set of security regulations designed to guard sensitive but unclassified information (S/U). It is designed to ensure that only authorized persons can access this information.

  • STELLARWIND or STLW - STELLARWIND is a system for storing and managing classified documents on a network. STELLARWIND uses AES encryption to protect all classified information. This system was developed by the US Department of Defense and is still in use today. STLW is a similar system developed by the US Department of Defense. STLW uses a symmetric key encryption algorithm, and it operates at trusted military sites only.

  • ENDSEAL or EL - ENDSEAL was one of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Control Systems (also known as SCIFs or SAICs) used in the United States Navy. The Department of Defense (DoD) 2013 Classification Manual describes ENDSEAL as “a method of protecting information, either electronic or physical, that is stored in a secure compartmented information facility (SCIF).” ENDSEAL is composed of three components: (1) Encapsulation, (2) Seal, and (3) Access.

  • TALENT KEYHOLE or TK - TALENT KEYHOLE or TK is the system used for secure communication and data transmission (via optical fiber or radio link). TK is a symmetric key encryption system based on the symmetric key method. TK is a FIPS 140-2 certified cryptosystem.

  • HUMINT Control System or HCS - As the name indicates, HCS (HUMINT Control System) is a compartmented information control system used to protect intelligence information. It defines, coordinates, and implements policies and procedures to control classified and unclassified intelligence information. The HCS is classified and is used to protect the information in signals intelligence (SIGINT), electronic eavesdropping (ELINT), and Cyber operations (COMINT). The HCS itself is classified and is used by the DoD to protect classified communications.

  • KLONDIKE or KDK - KLONDIKE or KDK as one of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Control Systems: KLONDIKE secures sensitive geospatial intelligence. Highly classified geospatial intelligence (GI) data is often classified to protect sources and methods. Intelligence organizations must also protect sensitive intelligence from unintended exposure. Classified geospatial intelligence often contains sensitive operational, tactical, planning, acquisition, deployment, and target data. Sensitive geospatial intelligence is exploitable if disclosed.

  • RESERVE or RSV - The RESERVE is the control system for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) responsible for protecting new sources and methods during the research, development, and acquisition process. The NRO’s RESERVE system is implicated in information belonging to US Intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This classified information is considered sensitive compartmented information (SCI), which is defined as “information the unauthorized disclosure to unauthorized persons of which could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security.”

  • BYEMAN or BYE – BYEMAN is a system used to identify specific collection systems (such as OXCAR) and integrate the systems to allow secure communication. The OMEGA (Organized Military Exchange) and CORONA (Communications Satellite) systems keep military communication secure. BYEMAN (pronounced be-may) was a component of the system. By classifying the systems, BYEMAN assigned a communications hierarchy, including identifying which systems were authorized to receive communications and control communications security.

Sensitive Compartmented Information Control Systems are intended to contain and protect information. They contain sensitive and classified materials and are designed to prevent unauthorized access to system components or the introduction of unauthorized information into protected areas.  

Who Is the One Responsible for Keeping or Managing SCI?

Classified information is a particularly important type of sensitive information due to its sensitivity and potential impact. Classified information includes information classified by the Director of National Intelligence at an appropriate level, whether or not it is designated as classified, and information that has been properly classified and is in possession of agency or personnel.

Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) requires special handling. For example, when the CIA first suspects a foreign power of having acquired a nuclear weapon, they’ll transfer that data to a secure location known only as “The Vault.” In addition to the highly classified information, the Vault also houses the highly secure computers needed to analyze all the data.

Those responsible for the management, protection, and control of SCI are entrusted with the stewardship of critical intelligence, which includes protecting and preserving information from all sources in order to protect the Nation’s security, ensure accountability, and uphold the rule of law.

What Is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility?

A sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) is an acronym for a secure area within an area that has restricted access. These secure areas are typically used for classified documents. SCIFs require special methods of entry, such as fingerprint scanning, iris scanning, or key card access. The SCIF is a type of secure building used for sensitive government and military missions. SCIFs are often found in secure locations, such as military bases, embassies, hospitals, and consulates.

A sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) is a secure facility or building intended to house sensitive or classified information. These facilities are usually located underground or in secure buildings constructed of reinforced concrete. Within the SCIF, sensitive data is stored in one or more locked cabinets. Facilities may contain one or more SCIFs. The secure facilities may contain single or multiple secure access levels. Operations in the facility may be separated by physical barriers, such as walls, floors, or rooms. The SCIF is designed to allow personnel to maintain security by ensuring that only authorized personnel may gain access to sensitive compartmented information.

Will It Be Possible to Access Sensitive Compartmented Information?

Sensitive compartmented information (SCI) is classified information that has to be kept private. Military, government, and intelligence agencies both use and guard this type of information closely. But did you know that even if you aren’t working with sensitive information, it may still be possible to access sensitive compartmented information?

Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) is a type of data that is classified to handle information that must be protected. It can only be viewed and edited by authorized personnel when it's stored, and it can’t be shared outside the organization.

The NSA and other types of intelligence agencies are tasked with protecting sensitive compartmented information (SCI). This type of info includes covert operations, intelligence, and national defense plans. Unfortunately, finding the “right” data center to house sensitive data is still proving to be very difficult. The US government has scaled back on its cloud providers with the Snowden revelations. Many are opting to keep the data protected by physically relocating it within a data center. However, a well-hidden storage component (such as the SCI) could still present problems.

Will Having Top Security Clearance Grant You Access To SCI?

A Top Secret security clearance indicates you are cleared to access the most classified information held by the United States Government. Top Secret security clearances are granted to those who demonstrate a national and international need for the information they handle and who can be trusted to protect it in a reasonable way. Those granted Top Secret clearances are usually the highest-ranking government employees or members of the highest-ranking military or intelligence staff.

Possessing a Top Secret security clearance means you have a certain level of access to sensitive and classified information, which can include information pertaining to nuclear weapons and defense. Security clearances are typically but not always necessary to obtain these positions, but holding one doesn’t necessarily mean you have a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with the government agency. A TS/SCI clearance, which stands for Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information, is the clearance level that is most closely associated with (and requires) an NDA.

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