CWI's Léo Ducas involved in finalists of NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization

In its process to develop the first cryptographic standard to protect sensitive electronic data against the threat of quantum computers, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the finalists. Léo Ducas from CWI's Cryptology group is involved in several finalists of this standardization process.

Publication date: 31-07-2020

In its process to develop the first cryptographic standard to protect sensitive electronic data against the threat of quantum computers, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the finalists. Léo Ducas from CWI's Cryptology group is involved in several finalists of this standardization process.

In order to protect sensitive data against attacks from quantum computers, several approaches of cryptography can be possible. In order to standardize this next-generation cryptography, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) examines submitted approaches in a competition-like process. Its focus is on public-key encryption schemes and on digital signatures schemes that combine high performance and general purpose with security in the face of possible future quantum computing.

Multinational collaboration
NIST announced a group of seven finalists, on 22 June 2020. CWI researcher Léo Ducas is involved in several of these finalists. He is a co-designer of one of the four finalists for public-key encryption (CRYSTALS-KYBER) and of one of the three finalists for digital signatures (CRYSTALS-DILITHIUM).

Both proposals are the result of a multi-national collaborative effort, which included CWI, University of Lyon, Radboud University, Ruhr University Bochum, University of Waterloo, IBM, NXP, ARM, and SRI International).

Fast and slow tracks
NIST divided the remaining candidates in its standardization process into two groups, called tracks. The so-called fast track contains the seven finalists that were announced by NIST. They have been labelled fast track, as they appear to have the potential of possible standardization in 2022. In addition, NIST announced several alternate candidates. These alternate candidates are on a slow-track towards subsequent standardization. Ducas is also involved in one candidate in the latter category, called FrodoKEM.

Leading expert
Ducas is a senior researcher in CWI's Cryptology group and a leading international expert on lattice-based cryptography. His contributions to the cryptanalysis of lattices have impacted the design and parametrization of lattice-based proposals.