NSA licenses cryptography tech

The National Security Agency has licensed cryptography technology from Certicom Corp., based in Ontario, Canada.

The $25 million contract gives NSA the nonexclusive right to use elements of Certicom's elliptic curve cryptography technology, which is covered by 26 patents. Certicom retains ownership of the technology, said Ian McKinnon, president and chief executive officer at Certicom.

Elliptic curve technology uses a mathematical method of creating cryptographic keys that are often smaller in bit size than those derived through other methods.

The contract validates ECC technology as a key cryptography standard, McKinnon said. "The U.S. government has decisively adopted ECC," he said. "It is a tested and proven public-key technology."

The technology will become the government standard to protect mission-critical national security information, he said. NSA will supply the technology to government agencies and to companies that develop and sell products and software to the government.

"We expect the NSA's adoption to accelerate the growth of ECC globally," he added.

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