Cylink Corp. said it has won U.S. Department of Commerce approval to export strong data encryption systems to the central banks of Europe.

The institutions, including those of the 15 European Union countries, subscribe to an international mandate to use Triple-DES, a compound level of security based on the U.S. Data Encryption Standard.

Triple DES requires keys totaling 168 digital bits in length to encrypt and decrypt messages-a highly secure size that had long been barred from export for national security reasons. U.S. authorities have been loosening the rules, particularly for banking and financial applications.

"This arrangement clearly demonstrates the level of commitment of the Clinton administration to developing secure electronic commerce and ensuring U.S. companies can compete in the global market," said William A. Reinsch, under secretary of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Export Administration.

To comply with the export license, Cylink committed to developing key recovery products, which can be used to reconstruct lost or unknown keys. But the central banks will be getting Cylink's hardware-based encryption systems without a key recovery component.

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