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Thursday, 26 April 2018 08:48

International standards body rejects NSA algorithms for IoT


Two algorithms proposed by the NSA as global standards for the Internet of Things have been rejected by the International Organisation for Standardisation during a meeting at Wuhan in China.

Delegates from countries that are US allies were among those who voted against the two algorithms which are known as SIMON and SPECK.

WikiTribune  reported that the rejection was based on the fact that US officials, including some from the NSA, refused to provide the standard level of technical detail needed.

In September last year, the NSA move was set back when delegates at an earlier meeting of the ISO took a stand against advancing the two encryption techniques as global standards.

At that meeting, academic and industry experts from Germany, Japan and Israel expressed concerns that the NSA was pushing SIMON and SPECK not because they were superior to others, but because the NSA knew how to break them.

Though the NSA relented and agreed to adopt only the strongest versions of these techniques which are least likely to be vulnerable to hacks, the Wuhan meeting was not convinced.

Since the revelations about NSA snooping by former contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, several delegates have expressed doubts over the NSA's motives for pushing the two algorithms. Snowden released documents which showed the agency had previously planned to manipulate standards and promote technology it could penetrate.

The WikiTribune report said the opposition to the NSA move was led, in Wuhan, by Dr Tomer Ashur from KU Leuven University, representing the Belgian delegation, and he was backed by many other countries.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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