Feeds

Congress divorces NIST and NSA

Spooks lose their role in developing encryption standards

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The US Congress has passed a bill that removes the NSA's direct input into encryption standards.

According to a report at ProPublica, an amendment to the National Institute of Standards and Technology act removes the requirement that NIST consult with the NSA in setting new encryption standards.

Following the Snowden revelations, NIST had denied that it deliberately weakened encryption standards at the behest of the NSA.

However, that didn't put to rest suspicions that weaknesses such as existed in Dual_EC_DRBG were deliberate NSA contrivances, with RSA singled out for criticism over the random number generator.

Earlier this year, NIST formalised its advice that nobody should be using Dual_EC_DRBG.

Concern over the NSA's involvement also led to an unsuccessful campaign to exclude the agency from IETF crypto research, and a successful one to block RSA key swaps from the TLS standards.

According to Slate, Congress has now passed the amendment that was recommended by the House Science and Technology Committee (Slate also complains that the rest of the bill is mostly toothless).

As Bruce Schneir pointed out last week, users' one source of post-Snowden optimism is that vast dollars haven't yet delivered a special sauce that lets the NSA or its five-eyes partners crack well-implemented encryption.

Hence their continuing reliance either on social engineering, or on various forms of keylogging, to get user data.

In that light, anything that gives users confidence that their encryption isn't being backdoored can only be a good thing. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.