Status Report on the Second Round of the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Process

TitleStatus Report on the Second Round of the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Process
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsAlagic, G, Alperin-Sheriff, J, Apon, D, Cooper, D, Dang, Q, Kelsey, J, Liu, Y-K, Miller, C, Moody, D, Peralta, R, Perlner, R, Robinson, A, Smith-Tone, D
JournalNISTIR 8309
Date Published07/2020

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is in the process of selecting one or more public-key cryptographic algorithms through a public, competition-like process. The new public-key cryptography standards will specify one or more additional digital signatures, public-key encryption, and key-establishment algorithms to augment Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 186-4, Digital Signature Standard (DSS), as well as NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-56A Revision 3, Recommendation for Pair-Wise Key-Establishment Schemes Using Discrete Logarithm Cryptography, and SP 800-56B Revision 2, Recommendation for Pair-Wise Key Establishment Using Integer Factorization Cryptography. It is intended that these algorithms will be capable of protecting sensitive information well into the foreseeable future, including after the advent of quantum computers.

The NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Process began in 2017 with 69 candidate algorithms that met both the minimum acceptance criteria and submission requirements. The first round lasted until January 2019, during which candidate algorithms were evaluated based on their security, performance, and other characteristics. NIST selected 26 algorithms to advance to the second round for more analysis. This report describes the evaluation and selection process, based on public feedback and internal review, of the second-round candidates. The report summarizes the 26 second-round candidate algorithms and identifies those selected to move forward to the third round of the competition. The third-round finalist public-key encryption and key-establishment algorithms are Classic McEliece, CRYSTALS-KYBER, NTRU, and SABER. The third-round finalists for digital signatures are CRYSTALS-DILITHIUM, FALCON, and Rainbow. These finalists will be considered for standardization at the end of the third round. In addition, eight alternate candidate algorithms will also advance to the third round: BIKE, FrodoKEM, HQC, NTRU Prime, SIKE, GeMSS, Picnic, and SPHINCS+. These additional candidates are still being considered for standardization, although this is unlikely to occur at the end of the third round. NIST hopes that the announcement of these finalists and additional candidates will serve to focus the cryptographic community’s attention during the next round.