With the expansion of quantum computing science on the horizon, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced new draft standards for three quantum-resistant algorithms that will be ready for use in 2024.

The algorithms were originally chosen back in 2022 after a deliberate effort from NIST to identify possible algorithm candidates that would help move away from standard public-key encryption techniques to more advanced quantum-resistant methods.

“We’re getting close to the light at the end of the tunnel, where people will have standards they can use in practice,” said Dustin Moody, a NIST mathematician and leader of the project. “For the moment, we are requesting feedback on the drafts. Do we need to change anything, and have we missed anything?”

Feedback on NIST’s new quantum standardization efforts is due by November 22.

Currently, NIST has four algorithms that it will be moving down the pipeline, each focusing on defending different applications and systems.

One of the four algorithms – titled CRYSTALS-Kyber – is “designed for general encryption purposes such as creating secure websites,” according to NIST. The second – CRYSTALS-Dilithium – focuses on “[protecting] the digital signatures [used] when signing documents remotely.”

The third algorithm, dubbed “SPHINCS+” also will focus on protecting user’s digital signatures from quantum computing decryption.

The last algorithm mentioned – titled “Falcon” – also focuses on protecting digital signatures and is slated to receive a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) in 2024, and receive testing in the future.

“In addition to the four algorithms NIST selected last year, the project team also selected a second set of algorithms for ongoing evaluation, intended to augment the first set,” stated the agency. “NIST will publish draft standards next year for any of these algorithms selected for standardization.”

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.