Tiny IoT devices are getting their own special encryption algorithms

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The US Department of Commerce’s technical standards organization NIST has nominated the Ascon group of cryptographic algorithms for protecting small devices and information transmitted to and from IoT devices. 

NIST will later this year publish the “lightweight cryptography” standard after picking the Ascon family for the task.  

Also: What is the IoT? Everything you need to know about the Internet of Things right now

It selected the algorithms to protect a vast array of devices, sensors, and actuators. The algorithms are also designed for implanted medical devices, stress detectors inside roads and bridges, and keyless entry fobs for vehicles. 

Many of these devices operate with low power that the “lightweight cryptography” needs to account for when protecting information on and transmitting from them.

“The world is moving toward using small devices for lots of tasks ranging from sensing to identification to machine control, and because these small devices have limited resources, they need security that has a compact implementation,” said NIST computer scientist Kerry McKay in an announcement.

“These algorithms should cover most devices that have these sorts of resource constraints.”   

NIST selected Ascon in 2019 as the primary candidate for lightweight authenticated encryption, so it’s had lots of time to put it through tests. Ascon was developed in 2014 by a team of cryptographers from Graz University of Technology, Infineon Technologies, Lamar Security Research, and Radbound University. 

McKay noted there are seven variants in the

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