NIST releases encryption tools to combat quantum computing threats

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology this week selected the first group of encryption tools designed to withstand the assault of a future quantum computer, which could potentially crack the security used to protect privacy in digital systems such as online banking and email software. The announcement follows a six-year effort managed by NIST, which in 2016 called upon the world’s cryptographers to devise and then vet encryption methods that could resist this type of attack.

The four selected encryption algorithms will become part of NIST’s post-quantum cryptographic standard, which is expected to be finalized in about two years. NIST has selected one algorithm for general encryption and three algorithms for digital signatures, which are often used to verify identities during a digital transaction or to sign a document remotely. Four additional algorithms are under consideration for inclusion in the standard, and NIST plans to announce the finalists from that round at a future date. 

ABA continues to track quantum computing issues and to engage others in the financial sector through its leadership of the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council’s Research and Development group.