NIST denies NSA tampering with encryption standards

Although NIST must work with NSA by law, the agency maintains a public vetting process for all encryption standards

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has vigorously denied that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) tampered with NIST's process of vetting and choosing encryption algorithms.

"NIST would not deliberately weaken a cryptographic standard," NIST said in a statement Tuesday. "We will continue in our mission to work with the cryptographic community to create the strongest possible encryption standards for the U.S. government and industry at large."

The statement was issued five days after The New York Times accused the NSA of circumnavigating the NIST-approved encryption algorithms used to secure electronic communications, either by introducing virtually undetectable back doors in the algorithms or by subverting the public development process to weaken new encryption algorithms and supporting technologies.

NIST led development of many of the algorithms used to encrypt data on the Internet, such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and the now largely defunct DES (Digital Encryption Standard). Both AES and DES are used in SSL (Secure Socket Layer), the protocol used by browsers to secure sensitive data.

In addition to issuing the statement, NIST has also reopened public comments for a number of proposed encryption related standards, namely Special Publication 800-90A and draft Special Publications 800-90B and 800-90C, which cover the random bit generators that provide random numbers to seed encryption keys.

NIST noted that it has worked closely with the NSA to help develop encryption standards, due to the NSA's expertise in this area. NIST is also required to consult with the NSA by U.S. legal statute. But the agency noted that its process for vetting encryption algorithms is an open one, in which anyone can review and comment on the work being done.

"If vulnerabilities are found in these or any other NIST standards, we will work with the cryptographic community to address them as quickly as possible," the statement read.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityU.S. National Security AgencyencryptiongovernmentU.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?