NIST laying the groundwork for more advanced cryptography

NIST laying the groundwork for more advanced cryptography
NIST laying the groundwork for more advanced cryptography 

By William Jackson
Feb 19, 2010

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released two 
documents as part of its Cryptographic Key Management Project -- a 
summary of a key management workshop held in June that explored the 
risks and challenges of handling cryptographic keys in new technological 
environments, and a draft of recommendations for agencies on 
transitioning to new algorithms and keys.

Key management is one of the most difficult tasks in cryptography, 
because a cryptographic algorithm or scheme is only as secure as the 
keys used to encrypt and decrypt data. The scalability and usability of 
the methods used to distribute keys are of particular concern. NIST's 
key management project is an effort to improve the overall key 
management strategies to enhance the usability of cryptographic 
technology, provide scalability and support a global cryptographic key 
management infrastructure.

The first step in achieving those goals was a workshop NIST hosted in 
June that examined the obstacles in using the key management 
methodologies currently in use. It also covered alternative technologies 
that key management needs to accommodate and approaches for moving from 
current methodologies to more desireable methods.

The results of the workshop are summarized in NIST Interagency Report 
7609. An approach to transitioning to new generations of keys and 
algorithms is provided in a draft of Special Publication 800-131, 
"Recommendation for the Transitioning of Cryptographic Algorithms and 
Key Sizes."


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