New plug-in TEMPEST filters offer IT system security

To prevent the covert interrogation of conducted lines, MPE Ltd has long specialised in the design and manufacture of TEMPEST specification filters, in both standard and custom formats, that offer high insertion loss performance across a very wide frequency spectrum. Now the company has launched a new range of convenient, plug-in TEMPEST filters in 1-, 2- and 4-socket and inline versions.

These devices are designed to the IT equipment safety standard EN 60950-1. Requiring no electrical contractors for their installation, these filters are quick and easy to deploy to meet an immediate need. Over 300 units in different versions with different current ratings have already been supplied for UK sites of the Ministry of Defence.

A longstanding concern of governments, armed forces, municipal authorities and companies has been the fact that electrical and electronic equipment such as computers and peripherals give off unintended electromagnetic emanations which can then be reconstructed as intelligible data. Accordingly, to maximise information security, countermeasures for TEMPEST – often regarded as an acronym for “Transient ElectroMagnetic Pulse Emanation Standard” – are aimed at preventing eavesdropping on data radiated as signals via conducting lines (such as power, telephone or control line cables).

Such a signal may be intercepted by an enemy’s intelligence services, or a competitor, rival or fraudster. Thus for instance, a classified signal from a laptop inadvertently picked up and transmitted down an unprotected telephone line could potentially be accessed by putting a clamp around a telephone cable many miles away. Just as susceptible are incoming power cables, which can be monitored over similarly long distances. Accordingly the danger is “clear and present”.

The new plug-in filters from MPE are fully compliant with NATO SDIP-27 Levels B and C, MPE’s 250V AC, 50/60Hz, pluggable TEMPEST filters cater for 6A, 13A and 32A currents. The units provide EMI suppression across the full frequency spectrum. Accordingly they meet the TEMPEST protection standards applied to individual pieces of equipment of 60dB insertion loss performance over frequencies from 100kHz to 1GHz.

The 6A and 13A types of connection unit feature 3-pin plug input and socket outlets to BS 1363, whilst the 32A comes as standard with an IEC 60309 Commando connector input and BS 1363 socket outlets. Alternatively terminated filters, such as IEC, Powercon and Schuko, are easily supplied upon request.

The new units, in a smart and durable stainless steel enclosure, are significantly smaller and lighter than traditional TEMPEST filters. All components are manufactured by MPE in Liverpool under an ISO 9001 quality regime. There has been a zero failure rate on the many hundreds of MPE TEMPEST filters currently in service around the world, so that complete reliability over long service is their hallmark.


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