NSA Port Protection Technology

Email: 
tech_transfer@nsa.gov
Lab Representatives

NSA Port Protection Technology

While organizations focus on firewalls and security software, a multitude of open network ports on computers, routers, servers and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone jacks in public and seemingly secure areas remain vulnerable to covert extraction of data and the introduction of damaging malware. The National Security Agency’s (NSA) data port protection technologies for Ethernet (RJ45), USB, and video (D-sub) ports provide an innovative layer of defense against this often overlooked vulnerability. Invented by NSA innovator Gary Mosholder, the port protectors cannot be removed once inserted into a port without resulting in visual evidence of tampering, a critical feature for true system security in defense of the warfighter. Soldiers overseas must know without a doubt that the devices they receive are safe to use.

Mosholder began developing the port protection technologies in 2010 for government users. After a commercial market review led him to PadJack, Inc., and its RJ45 locking seal, the NSA Technology Transfer Program (TTP) activated a standard nondisclosure agreement to allow intellectual property-protected collaboration with Jim Bolain, PadJack CEO, to enhance the foundational PadJack technology. The partnership resulted in an improved product patented by NSA and shared throughout the Department of Defense (DOD). As demand grew, the NSA TTP recognized the need for a more efficient direct purchase avenue for government users, as well as the technologies’ broader commercialization potential, and began licensing negotiations with PadJack, Inc. To date, three nonexclusive patent license agreements have been signed for patented and patent-pending technologies: the locking seal for data ports (RJ45), signed in July 2013; the USB port protector, signed in July 2014; and the D-sub port blocks and other technologies, signed in August 2015.

These successful technology transfers have exceeded the expectations of both partners. Commercialization of NSA technology has resulted in five new products for PadJack, which have transformed the company with increased sales, a growing workforce, and new manufacturing capabilities, and established it as a market leader with unique, groundbreaking solutions.

For NSA, transfer of the port protector technologies provides an additional layer of information assurance defense at the physical level for securing systems that handle classified and other highly regulated, critical data. In addition, the NSA TTP staff moved from a “one size fits all” licensing model to a scalable model that opens the way for leveraging opportunities presented by small businesses and, ultimately, moving more NSA patented technologies from the lab to the marketplace.

Today, every branch of the military, the intelligence community, and leading-edge firms serious about their information assurance security posture are using PadJack products.

Winners:

  • Linda Burger
  • Jim Bolain
  • Gary Mosholder
  • Karen Presley

Contact: Linda Burger, (443) 643-3518, Llburg2@nsa.gov

Award Year: 
Region: 
Mid-Atlantic