Below is a listing of nicknames and codewords related to US Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) andCommunications Security (COMSEC). Most of them are from the NSA, some are from other government or military agencies. Due to secrecy, it’s not always clear whether a word is a nickname or a codeword. Some of them also have an abbreviation which is shown in brackets.
Nicknames are generally unclassified. NSA uses single word nicknames, outside NSA they usually consist of two separate words, with the first word selected from alphabetical blocks that are assigned to different agencies by the Joint Staff. Usually, nicknames are printed using all capital letters.
Codewords are always classified and always consist of a single word. Active codewords always need to be shown together with their classification level. Normally, codewords are printed using all capital letters.
Please keep in mind that a listing like this will always be work in progress.
See also the list of Abbreviations and Acronyms
ACCORDIAN – Type 1 Cryptographic algorithm used in a number of crypto products
AGILITY – NSA internet information tool or database
AGILEVIEW – NSA internet information tool or database
ALPHA – SIGINT Exchange Designator for Great Britain
ANCHORY – NSA software system which provides web access to textual intelligence documents
AUTOSOURCE – NSA tool or database
AQUACADE – A class of SIGINT spy satellites (formerly RHYOLITE)
ARCA – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
ARGON – Satellite mapping program
ASSOCIATION – NSA tool or database
BANYAN – NSA tool or database
BATON – Type 1 Block cipher algorithm, used with many crypto products
BELLTOPPER – NSA database *
BINOCULAR – Former NSA intelligence dissemination tool
BLACKPEARL – NSA tool or database
BLARNEY – NSA internet and telephony network collection program
BOUNDLESSINFORMANT – DNI and DNR data visualization tool
BYEMAN (BYE) – Retired control system for overhead collection systems (1961-2005)
CADENCE – NSA collection tasking tool or database
CANYON – Class of COMINT spy satellites (1968-1977)
CANNON LIGHT – Counterintelligence database of the US Army
CHESS – Compartment of TALENT KEYHOLE for the U-2 spy plane
CORDOBA – Type 2 Cryptographic algorithm used in a number of NSA-developed crypto chips
CONFIRM – NSA database for personell access
CONTRAOCTAVE – NSA tool or database
CONVEYANCE – A voice content ingest processor?
CORONA – A series of photographic surveillance satellites (1959-1972)
COURIERSKILL – NSA Collection mission system
CREST – Database which automatically translates foreign language intercepts in English *
CULTWEAVE – Smaller size SIGINT database *
DAFF – Codeword for products of satellite imagery
DELTA – Compartment for COMINT material from intercepts of Soviet military operations
DIKTER – SIGINT Exchange Designator for Norway
DINAR – Predecessor of the UMBRA compartment for COMINT
DISHFIRE – NSA internet information tool or database
DIVERSITY – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
DRUID – SIGINT Exchange Designator for third party countries
DYNAMO – SIGINT Exchange Designator for Denmark
ECHELON – A SIGINT collection network run by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States
ECHO – SIGINT Exchange Designator for Australia
FAIRVIEW – NSA internet and telephony network collection program
FALLOUT – DNI metadata ingest processor
FIREFLY – NSA-developed key generation scheme, used for exchanging EKMS public keys
FISHBOWL – NSA program for securing commercial smartphones
FRONTO – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
GAMMA (G) – Compartment for highly sensitive communication intercepts
GAMUT – NSA collection tasking tool or database
GLOBAL BROKER – NSA tool or database
GRAB – SIGINT satellite program
HAVE BLUE – Development program of the F-117A Stealth fighter-bomber
HAVE QUICK (HQ) – Frequency-hopping system used to protect military UHF radio traffic
HERCULES – CIA terrorism database
HIGHTIDE – NSA tool or database
INDIA – SIGINT Exchange Designator for New Zealand
INTRUDER – Series of ELINT and COMINT spy satellites (since 2009)
ISHTAR – SIGINT Exchange Designator for Japan
IVY BELLS – NSA, CIA and Navy operation to place wire taps on Soviet underwater communication cables
JEROBOAM – Another name used for the TRUMPET spy satellites
JUGGERNAUT – Picks up all signals from mobile networks *
JUMPSEAT – Class of SIGINT reconnaissance satellites (1971-1983)
KAMPUS – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
KEA – Asymmetric-key Type 2 algorithm used in products like Fortezza, Fortezza Plus
KEYRUT – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
KLONDIKE (KDK) – Control system for sensitive geospatial intelligence
LANYARD – Reconaissance satellite program
LOPERS – Software application for Public Switched Telephone Networks *
MAGIC LANTERN – A keystroke logging software developed by the FBI
MAGNUM – Series of SIGINT spy satellites (since 1985)
MAIN CORE – Federal database of personal and financial data of suspicious US citizens
MAINWAY – NSA database of bulk phone metadata
MARINA – NSA database of bulk internet metadata
MENTOR – Class of SIGINT spy satellites (since 1995)
MESSIAH – NSA automated message handling system
METTLESOME – NSA Collection mission system
MIDAS – Satellite program
MINARET – A sister project to Project SHAMROCK (1967-1973)
MOONLIGHTPATH – An NSA collection program *
MORAY – Retired compartment for the least sensitive COMINT material
MUSKET – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
NECTAR – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
NUCLEON – Database for contents of phone calls
OAKSTAR – NSA internet and telephony network collection program
OCEANARIUM – Database for SIGINT from NSA and intelligence sharing partners around the world *
OCELOT – Probably a NSA program for collection from internet and telephony networks
OCTAVE – NSA tool for telephone network tasking
OCTSKYWARD – NSA tool or database
OSCAR – SIGINT Exchange Designator for the USA
OXCART – The Lockheed A-12 program (better known as SR-71)
PADSTONE – Type 1 Cryptographic algorithm used in products like Cypris, Windster and Indictor
PATHFINDER – SIGINT analysis tool (made by SAIC)
PINWALE – Database for recorded signals intercepts/internet content
PLUS – NSA SIGINT production feedback program *
POPPY – SIGINT satellite program
PRISM – NSA collection program for foreign internet data
PROTEIN – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
PROTON – Smaller size SIGINT database
PURPLE – Codename for a Japanese diplomatic cryptosystem during WWII
PUZZLECUBE – NSA tool or database
PYLON – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
RAGTIME (RT) – Codeword for four NSA surveillance programs
RENOIR – NSA telephone network visualization tool
RESERVE (RSV) – Control system for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
RICHTER – SIGINT Exchange Designator for Germany
RORIPA – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
RUFF – Compartment of TALENT KEYHOLE for IMINT satellites
RHYOLITE – Class of SIGINT spy satellites (in 1975 changed to AQUACADE)
SABRE – Retired(?) SIGINT product codeword
SAMOS – Reconnaissance satellite program
SARDINE – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
SAVILLE – Narrow band voice encryption used for radio and telephone communication
SEABOOT – SIGINT Exchange Designator for ?
SHARKFIN – Sweeps up all-source communications intelligence at high speed and volumes *
SEMESTER – NSA SIGINT reporting tool
SENTINEL – NSA database security filter*
SETTEE – SIGINT Exchange Designator for South Korea
SHAMROCK – Operation for intercepting telegraphic data going in or out the US (1945-1975)
SHELLTRUMPET – NSA metadata processing program *
SIGSALY – The first secure voice system from World War II
SILKWORTH – A software program used for the ECHELON system
SIRE – A software program used for the ECHELON system
SKIPJACK – Type 2 Block cipher algorithms used in products like Fortezza, and the Clipper Chip
SKYWRITER – NSA internet intelligence reporting tool
SOLIS – SIGINT product databases *
SPHINX – Counterintelligence database of the Defense Intelligence Agency
SPINNERET – an NSA operational branche? *
SPOKE – Retired compartment for less sensitive COMINT material