Digital Signature Standard Updated

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 @ 04:07 PM gHale


A revision to the digital signature standard used to ensure the integrity of electronic documents, as well as the identity of the signer just released.

The new document, Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 186-4, concerns the digital signature standard. First published in 1994 and revised several times since then, the standard 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 still necessary as technology changes, said National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) officials.

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FIPS 186-4 contains no major revisions, but rather focuses on keeping the standard consistent with other NIST cryptographic guidelines, said NIST computer scientist Elaine Barker.

Other than clarifying a number of terms and correcting typographical errors, most of the changes aim to align the standard with other publications, such as NIST Special Publication 131A, so all NIST documents offer consistent guidance regarding the use of random number generators, Barker said.

Another change concerns the use of prime number generators, which requires random initial values for searching for prime numbers. FIPS 186-3 specifically allowed saving these “seeds” only for use as evidence the generated values were determined in an arbitrary manner; FIPS 186-4 permits saving them for additional purposes, such as the regeneration of the values.

Click here to download the FIPS 186-4 document.



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