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Lightweight Cryptography Standardization Process: NIST Selects Ascon

NIST announces the selection of the Ascon family for lightweight cryptography standardization.

The NIST Lightweight Cryptography Team has reviewed the finalists based on their submission packages, status updates, third-party security analysis papers, and implementation and benchmarking results, as well as the feedback received during workshops and through the lwc-forum. The decision was challenging since most of the finalists exhibited performance advantages over NIST standards on various target platforms without introducing security concerns.

The team has decided to standardize the Ascon family for lightweight cryptography applications as it meets the needs of most use cases where lightweight cryptography is required. Congratulations to the Ascon team! NIST thanks all of the finalist teams and the community members who provided feedback that contributed to the selection. 

NIST’s next steps will be to:

  • Publish NIST IR 8454, which describes the details of the selection and the evaluation process
  • Work with the Ascon designers to draft the new lightweight cryptography standard for public comments
  • Host a virtual public workshop to further explain the selection process and to discuss various aspects of standardization (e.g., additional variants, functionalities, and parameter selections) as well as possible extensions to the scope of the lightweight cryptography project. The tentative dates for the workshop are June 21-22, 2023. More information will be provided in the upcoming weeks.

NIST Lightweight Cryptography Team

Released February 7, 2023, Updated February 14, 2023