Recommendation for Stateful Hash-Based Signature Schemes: NIST SP 800-208
NIST announces the release of Special Publication (SP) 800-208, Recommendation for Stateful Hash-Based Signature Schemes. This publication supplements FIPS 186 by approving the use of two stateful hash-based signature schemes: the eXtended Merkle Signature Scheme (XMSS) and the Leighton-Micali Signature system (LMS) as specified in Requests for Comments (RFC) 8391 and 8554, respectively.
Stateful hash-based signature schemes are secure against the development of quantum computers, but they are not suitable for general use because their security depends on careful state management. They are most appropriate for applications in which the use of the private key may be carefully controlled and where there is a need to transition to a post-quantum secure digital signature scheme before the post-quantum cryptography standardization process has completed.
NIST SP 800-208 profiles LMS, XMSS, and their multi-tree variants. This profile approves the use of some but not all of the parameter sets defined in RFCs 8391 and 8554. The approved parameter sets use either SHA-256 or SHAKE256 with 192- or 256-bit outputs. This profile also requires that key and signature generation be performed in hardware cryptographic modules that do not allow secret keying material to be exported.
The collected public comments on the earlier draft SP 800-208 have been updated to include responses from NIST.
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