NIST Updates Digital Signature Standard

Revised Guidance Aligns with Other NIST Cryptographic Pubs
NIST Updates Digital Signature Standard

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a revision to the digital standard used to ensure the integrity of electronic documents and the identity of the signer.

See Also: Securing Your Business Begins with Password Security

NIST computer scientists Elaine Barker says the revised digital signature standard guidance, Federal Information Processing Standard 186-4, contains no major revisions but rather focuses on keeping the standard consistent with other NIST cryptographic guidelines.

Other than clarifying a number of terms and correcting typographical errors, Barker says, most of the changes aim to align the standard with other publications, such as Special Publication 131A, Recommendation for Transitioning the Use of Cryptographic Algorithms and Key Lengths, so that all NIST documents offer consistent guidance regarding the use of random number generators.

First published in 1994 and revised several times since then, FIPS 186-4 provides a means of guaranteeing authenticity in the digital world. It uses complex math operations to encrypt and unscramble signatures that are all but impossible to forge. Updates to the standard are necessary as technology changes.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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