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Tackling advanced cryptography … toward standards?

April 22, 2023


Luís T. A. N. Brandão - NIST/Strativia



The standardization of “basic” cryptographic primitives and techniques has tremendously impacted digital society. Further impact can be expected from future developments in “advanced cryptography”, namely from techniques for protecting computations and enhancing privacy, often in multi-party settings. The scope of techniques includes threshold schemes (for decentralized computations), zero-knowledge proofs (for proving correctness of computations), and homomorphic encryption (for meaningful computations on top of encryption), which in turn may rely on “friendly” primitives (from symmetric and asymmetric cryptography) with special features. Their future standardization is expected to galvanize innovative collaborations with combined data utility, security and privacy. Yet, enhanced challenges in advanced cryptography may require considering creatively enhanced standardization processes.

This talk will overview the “NIST First Call for Multi-Party Threshold Schemes” (NISTIR 8214C ipd) as one process for tackling advanced cryptography in a standardization body. This “Threshold Call” aims at a structured process for collecting “reference material” about advanced cryptographic techniques. The call has a very wide scope, yet guided by a focus on threshold schemes: enabling evaluation of cryptographic primitives while the needed secret material is distributed across multiple parties. Future submissions in reply to the call should include security characterization, technical description, open-source implementation, and performance evaluation. The public analysis to ensue will help devise (i) recommendations on best practices, and (ii) recommendations on subsequent processes that should emerge in differentiated ways across various subcategories of primitives.

The talk will also set the stage for an interactive conversation in the rest of the session, where the attendees are encouraged to informally share their thoughts. Here are some topics:

  1. On the timing and speed of processes: what is too soon, too late, too slow, and too fast?
  2. What value is there in still pursuing new standards for quantum-breakable primitives?
  3. How to handle the standardization tension between innovation and interoperability?
  4. Which cryptographic functionalities/features make sense to prioritize for standardization?
  5. What synergies should we aim for between academia, industry, gov and standards bodies?

Presented at

Invited talk presented on 2023-April-22, in Lyon (France), at the joint session between SSR 2023 & STAP'23:

  • SSR: Security Standardisation Research Conference
  • STAP: Symmetric Techniques for Advanced Protocols

Related Topics

Security and Privacy: cryptography

Created April 24, 2023, Updated April 25, 2023