About ISC

Information Security Corporation (ISC) is now headquartered in Oak Park, IL. Our development offices are located in Oak Park and Santa Cruz, CA. The company was founded in 1989 by Thomas Venn and Michael Markowitz to develop and market data security products based on public key cryptography. For several years ISC focused on the Federal Government market, but in the last few years has become increasingly involved in the private sector.

  • Background
  • History
  • Management
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Company Background

ISC specializes in the design and development of applications for PKI credential management, encryption, and authentication. Our RSA, DSA, ECDSA, AES, TDES, SHS, SHA-3, and HMAC implementations have been certified by NIST for compliance with all relevant Federal Information Processing Standards (as have our CVL, DRBG, KAS, and KTS implementations). CDK 8.0, the cryptographic module on which all of our current products are based, has recently been awarded FIPS 140-2 Validation Certificate #3105 by NIST and the Communication Security Establishment (CSE) of the Government of Canada.

ISC offers a family of shrink-wrapped security applications as well as linkable object module libraries called Cryptographic Development Kits (CDKs). The latter are available as Windows Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) or COM objects, or as object module libraries for various UNIX platforms. (The CDK was also offered in the form of a CDSA 1.2 CSP for Windows NT and the HP-UX 11.0 operating system; Hewlett-Packard provided the latter to all HP-UX 11 licensees.)

After several years of participation in the IEEE 1363 standards process, ISC implemented Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) and currently uses it in CertAgent and SecretAgent. It is also available to developers as part of our CDKs.

A Brief Corporate History

ISC gained special recognition in the early 90's for developing the first commercial implementation of the Digital Signature and Secure Hash Algorithms (DSA/SHA). dsaSIGN, as we called this product, can be used to verify the identity of the sender of an electronic message as well to guarantee the integrity of the message content itself. The DSA and SHA have been adopted by the NIST as mandatory government standards for sender and message authentication (FIPS 186 and FIPS 180-1). Mr. Venn and Dr. Markowitz were awarded Vice President Al Gore's Hammer award for their participation in one particular GSA program (the FTS2001 bidding process) that used dsaSIGN.

The company's popular SecretAgent product débuted in 1991. The fully PKI-enabled 5.0 release became available in 1999. SecretAgent supports X.509 certificates and CRLs from a variety of commercial Certificate Authorities (CAs) and offers the latest in encryption and digital signature technology to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of your data. SecretAgent also offers an optional key recovery scheme. This product is widely used throughout the Federal government as well as by numerous Fortune 100 corporations.

In 1998, ISC was tasked by the NSA to develop the first commercial "software FORTEZZA" product, i.e., a version of SecretAgent that supported MSP version 1 certificates and used the NIST EES ("Skipjack") for bulk encryption and the DoD-classified KEA algorithm for key exchange. NSA demonstrated ISC's solution at a TechNet conference, showing it to be fully interoperable with a hardware-based system using a FORTEZZA PCMCIA card.

ISC introduced its SecurePhone product in 1999. SecurePhone allows two communicants to carry on secure, authenticated, full-duplex voice conversations over the Internet (using any existing TCP/IP stack) or over an ordinary telephone line (using a modem).

In the last two decades, ISC has focused on the development of a host of certificate lifecycle management applications and cryptographic web services, while continuing to enhance SecretAgent (the latest iteration of which includes transparent rule-based file protection and centralized enterprise-scaleable configuration and management features). CertAgent, an affordable, fully-functional X.509 certificate authority first released in 2001, was recently awarded NIAP Common Criteria certification and is currently the only CA to appear on the NSA CSfC approved products list.


A sampling of early cryptographic projects in which ISC was involved
  • Developed the smartcard-based "release authenticator" (digital signature/validation capability) used by the Navy in early generation releases of the NCTS GateGuard system (now run by DISA) (GateGuard information)
  • Provided dsaSign to Lockheed for use in the protection of F-22 avionics
  • Developed a custom version of SecretAgent integrated by Unisys into the FAA's AeroMedical Examiner's Program
  • Participated in the FORTEZZA design process and implemented software FORTEZZA for NSA (Litronic press release on ISC's software FORTEZZA effort)
  • Received Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award for the GSA's use of a token-based version of dsaSIGN in the FTS2001 Electronic Bid Process (GSA announcement)

    Gore Hammer

  • Contributed all security modules for the Key Recovery Demonstration Projects run by both the FBI and the SBA (NIST KRDP information)
  • Developed for AT&T and Hewlett-Packard the Praesidium CDSA 1.2 CSPs for HP-UX 11; subsequently licensed 400,000 copies to HP
  • Designed and developed an S/MIME-based NetPost Certified Electronic PostMark (EPM) client for the USPS (USPS/AT&T/IBM press release)
  • Designed (with Booz-Allen-Hamilton), and implemented for DoD, a central key generation and private encryption key escrowing module for Netscape CMS
  • Designed (with Booz-Allen-Hamilton), and implemented for the U.S. intelligence community, a utility that manages PKI credentials in a largely user-transparent manner; this utility is now sold commercially as the ISC CMU
Thomas J. Venn - President and Co-Founder

A high technology veteran with more than forty years of experience in office automation and computing systems, Tom Venn co-founded ISC in 1989. During his previous thirteen years with Xerox Corporation in Federal Government sales and management, he was a seven-time recipient of Xerox's highest award for sales achievement (President's Club) as a Major Account representative and as a District Systems Sales Manager.

At Xerox, Venn's responsibilities included the largest commercial and governmental accounts in the City of Chicago and the State of Wisconsin, and covered several product lines including the Memorywriter, local area networks, laser printing, personal computers, professional workstations, and word processing. Recognized as one of Xerox's most successful District Systems Sales Managers in the United States, Venn spent one year as a regional Marketing Manager for a 10 state area. As a result of these efforts, he received Xerox's Merit Achievement Award for distinguished contribution to the company.

A marketing major, Venn received his BBA from the University of Notre Dame.

Michael J. Markowitz, Ph.D. - VP R&D and Co-Founder

Mike Markowitz became involved in public key cryptography in the early 1980s and co-founded ISC in 1989. He has helped design and/or author most of ISC's security products, and currently leads ISC's product development team.

In the 1990s, Markowitz served on NIST's Technical Advisory Committee to Develop a Federal Information Processing Standard for the Federal Key Management Infrastructure (TACDFIPSFKMI) and was Treasurer of the IEEE P1363 Public Key Cryptography Standards Committee for several years. He is a member of the AMS, IACR, IEEE, and Phi Beta Kappa.

Markowitz received his B.S. and M.S. degrees summa cum laude from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. He subsequently held an assistant professorship at the University of Notre Dame, an L.E. Dickson Instructorship at the University of Chicago, an assistant professorship at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an associate professorship at Loyola University of Chicago. His published papers are in differential geometry and general relativity, and his current interests include parabolic geometries, elliptic curves, and post-quantum cryptography.

Roger S. Schlafly, Ph.D. - Senior Mathematician

Roger Schlafly began his work in cryptography in 1983 and has helped design or co-author all of ISC's public key encryption products.

Although Schlafly began his research career in differential geometry, he now holds several patents in Cryptography and Computer Science. He developed the numerical solutions package Eureka: The Solver for Borland (later offered as shareware as Mercury) and made significant contributions to the Quattro spreadsheet program. In 1995 Schlafly and Hass announced a solution of Plateau's century-old double-bubble conjecture (AMS ERA link, American Scientist article, Ann. of Math. article).

Schlafly received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. He then joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as an L.E. Dickson Instructor with research interests in differential geometry and mathematical physics. Leaving academia in 1983, Schlafly spent a year at Hughes Aircraft Corporation working on air traffic control systems and then joined Borland International for several years. He assumed his present position with ISC in 1996.

Roger's published papers and patents

David DeVita, Esq. - VP and General Counsel

Dave DeVita's special expertise in software and technology law help ISC to remain in the forefront of the security industry.

DeVita received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He spent the next nine years as an Associate, then Partner, in the Cincinnati law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl. In 1987 DeVita cofounded DeVita and Howe, a general business law practice based in Cincinnati. DeVita returned to Dinsmore & Shohl as a Partner in 2015.

Andrew F. McDermott - Vice President of Sales

With more than thirty years of direct sales and sales management experience Andy McDermott has played a crucial role in the formulation of business development strategies at ISC since joining the company in 2002. He is also responsible for expanding our presence in all marketing arenas: federal/commercial and domestic/international.

Prior to joining ISC, Mr. McDermott worked as a private consultant to several SMB enterprises engaged in emerging manufacturing technologies. Mr. McDermott received his B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame.

In 1999, Markowitz and Venn were awarded Vice President Gore's Hammer Award for their contributions as members of the GSA's FTS2001 team. ISC technology allowed FTS2001 bidders to digitally sign their proposals using smart cryptographic tokens and to submit them electronically. This paperless process saved the government an estimated "$1.5 million and 52,000 staff hours."

Why work for ISC?

We offer excellent benefits: the top-tier BC/BS PPO medical plan and a dental plan (both entirely company-funded); an employer-matched 401(k) plan; an FSA plan; generous vacation and sick days; and paid maternity/paternity leaves. ISC has very low turnover — many of our employees are stockholders and have been with the company for more than ten years. Salaries are commensurate with experience and responsibilities.

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Gore Hammer