NIST adds 40 potential quantum-resistant algorithms to growing roster

NIST officials selected 40 new algorithms Monday to possibly help develop quantum-resistant cryptographic encryption.

NIST officials selected 40 new algorithms Monday to possibly help develop quantum-resistant cryptographic encryption. Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images

The standards agency’s work to identify and standardize post-quantum cryptographic encryption methods was highlighted as crucial to U.S. cybersecurity implementation plans.

Forty new algorithms were selected as additional candidates for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s post-quantum cryptography digital signature schemes, part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to help U.S. networks prepare for the advent of an advanced operational quantum computer.

Announced on Monday, the latest potential additions to the PQC standardization catalog come from a September 2022 call for additional submissions. In July 2022 NIST announced the selection of four quantum-resistant algorithms that had passed agency evaluation, and these four will be standardized for network deployment. 

“NIST initiated a public process to select quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms for standardization in response to the substantial development and advancement of quantum computing,” the agency noted on its project page. 

Out of the 50 submissions received in response to the September 2022 call, the agency determined 40 to be complete, according to the submission requirements. Evaluating those 40 is estimated to last “several years,” according to the agency.

NIST’s call for submissions for quantum-resistant algorithms officially began in December 2016. This latest call was the official fourth round of algorithm candidate submissions, and the agency anticipates holding a fifth round in April 2024.

“NIST greatly appreciates all of the candidate submission teams for their continued efforts in the standardization process,” the agency wrote.

Preparing for the advent of quantum computing has become synonymous with good cybersecurity practices in the past several years, as the federal government allocates more research and initiatives to updating the nation’s algorithmic infrastructure to a quantum-resilient environment. 

The recently-released National Cybersecurity Implementation Strategy also highlighted the importance of NIST’s PCQ standardization and solicitation efforts as important to implementing a stronger cybersecurity posture across the nation.