US Federal Standards Body Receives Feedback on Quantum-Safe Algorithms in Proposed Standards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that it is accepting feedback from the cryptographic community on three quantum-safe algorithms that are expected to be ready for use in 2024. These algorithms, known as Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) algorithms, aim to address the potential threats posed by cryptographically relevant quantum computers.

The proposed standards drafts for these algorithms have been open to public comments since July 2022 and will be accepting feedback until November 22, 2023. This period allows members of the cryptographic community to provide their thoughts, concerns, and recommendations to ensure that any necessary changes or improvements can be made before the standards are finalized.

The development of these standards is significant for organizations and the industry as a whole because they represent a major step towards data security in a post-quantum cryptography world. Once these standards are approved, public and private organizations can begin implementing quantum-safe algorithms within their environments. However, it is important to note that the transition to full implementation will still take years or even decades.

The urgency of adopting post-quantum cryptography is often misunderstood. The term “post-quantum cryptography” implies that it is not necessary to implement it until quantum computers are commercially available. However, experts in the field prefer to use terms like “quantum-resistant cryptography” or “quantum-safe cryptography” to emphasize the need for early adoption. It is crucial to start preparing for the eventual reality of quantum computing now, regardless of when it actually emerges.

NIST has selected four candidate algorithms as finalists, with three of them currently open for public comments. These algorithms include a lattice-based key encapsulation mechanism (ML-KEM) for establishing shared secret keys, a modern lattice-based digital signature algorithm (ML-DSA) for generating cryptographic keys and verifying digital signatures, and a stateless hash-based digital signature algorithm (SLH-DSA) for reducing signature sizes.

In summary, the proposal of these quantum-safe algorithms and the feedback received from the cryptographic community marks a significant milestone towards ensuring data security in a post-quantum cryptography era. Organizations should start planning and implementing these algorithms to protect their data against future quantum-related threats.

– National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)