What is NIST?

NIST is an acronym for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce; it was formerly known as the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). Through its Computer Systems Laboratory it aims to promote open systems and interoperability that will spur development of computer-based economic activity. NIST issues standards and guidelines that it hopes will be adopted by all computer systems in the U.S., and also sponsors workshops and seminars. Official standards are published as FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) publications.

In 1987 Congress passed the Computer Security Act, which authorized NIST to develop standards for ensuring the security of sensitive but unclassified information in government computer systems. It encouraged NIST to work with other government agencies and private industry in evaluating proposed computer security standards. However, it seems that NIST-standard cryptography such as the Escrowed Encryption Standard [NIS94a] and DSS [NIS94b] are hardly used in government, and virtually not at all by industry.

| Question 147 |