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Nist Asks Public to Help Future-Proof Electronic Information

By NIST News

December 28, 2016

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The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has made an official public request for assistance from the world's cryptographers in developing strategies to stave off the decryption of digital information promised by the advent of quantum computers.

NIST plans to dedicate the next several years to collecting, testing, and recommending new algorithms that would be less vulnerable to quantum hacking. In the collection stage, cryptographers can send proposed algorithms to the agency by Nov. 30, 2017.

NIST's Dustin Moody says the primary issue should be about new algorithms for public key cryptography, noting, "we're looking to replace three NIST cryptographic standards and guidelines that would be the most vulnerable to quantum computers." The standards pertain to encryption, key establishment, and digital signatures.

Following the November deadline, Moody says NIST will vet the submissions, and everyone whose proposal meets the acceptability requirements will be invited to present their algorithms at a workshop in early 2018. The assessment phase is expected to take about three to five years.

"We will be doing our own internal review of the algorithms, and we certainly want the public and crypto community to analyze the algorithms as well," Moody says.

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