NIST Narrows Field of Post-Quantum Crypto Contenders

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February 20, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: February 20 on

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has been working to ensure that public-key cryptosystems will not be hackable once large-scale quantum computers are built.

Although the delivery timeline of a mature quantum computer is under debate, NIST has already begun to prepare IT security to be able to resist quantum computing. It plans to supplement or replace three standards considered most vulnerable to a quantum attack: FIPS 186-4 — which specifies the suite of algorithms to use to generate digital signatures– NIST SP 800-56A and NIST SP 800-56B – which both relate to establishing keys used in public-key cryptography.

In December 2016 NIST launched a public competition to select one or more quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms.

By December 2017 the agency had selected 69 candidate algorithms from 82 submissions, and on Jan. 30, 2019, narrowed the field to 26 for the second round of the competition, which will evaluate the submissions’ performance across a wide variety of systems.

“We want to look at how these algorithms work not only in big computers and smartphones, but also in devices that have limited processor power,” NIST mathematician Dustin Moody said in an agency statement. “Smart cards, tiny devices for use in the Internet of Things, and individual microchips all need protection too. We want quantum-resistant algorithms that can perform this sort of lightweight cryptography.”

Related Document:

NISTIR 8240: Status Report on the First Round of the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Process, NIST, Jan 2019