NSA buys license for Certicom's encryption technology

Monday, 27 October 2003, 10:55 AM EST

In an extraordinary move, the National Security Agency has purchased a license for Certicom Corp.'s elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) system, and plans to make the technology a standard means of securing classified communications.

As part of the $25 million agreement, the NSA can grant sublicenses within a limited field of use. This most likely will include other government agencies, federal contractors and other parties that send sensitive data to the agency.

This is the first time that the NSA has endorsed any sort of public-key cryptography system.

Certicom officials said the agency approached the company about licensing Certicom's ECC intellectual property. ECC is a type of public-key cryptography that utilizes much smaller keys than other systems such as RSA. The technology is designed for use in constrained environments where memory and computing power are at a premium.

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