Encryption Standards To Be Reconsidered After NSA Revelations

Maybe spies won't be allowed to write them this time


SAN FRANCISCO — The federal agency charged with recommending cybersecurity standards said Tuesday that it would reopen the public vetting process for an encryption standard, after reports that the National Security Agency had written the standard and could break it.

"We want to assure the I.T. cybersecurity community that the transparent, public process used to rigorously vet our standards is still in place," The National Institute of Standards and Technology said in a public statement. "N.I.S.T. would not deliberately weaken a cryptographic standard."

The announcement followed reports published by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica last Thursday about the N.S.A.'s success in foiling much of the encryption that protects vast amounts of information on the Web. The Times reported that as part of its efforts, the N.S.A. had inserted a back door into a 2006 standard adopted by N.I.S.T. and later by the International Organization for Standardization, which counts 163 countries as members.