NSA Suite B Cryptography

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Suite B is a set of cryptographic algorithms promulgated by the National Security Agency as part of its Cryptographic Modernization Program. It is to serve as an interoperable cryptographic base for both unclassified information and most classified information. Suite B was announced on 16 February 2005. A corresponding set of unpublished algorithms, Suite A, is "used in applications where Suite B may not be appropriate. Both Suite A and Suite B can be used to protect foreign releasable information, US-Only information, and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI)."[1]

Suite B's components are:

Per CNSSP-15, the 256-bit elliptic curve (specified in FIPS 186-2), SHA-256, and AES with 128-bit keys are sufficient for protecting classified information up to the Secret level, while the 384-bit elliptic curve (specified in FIPS 186-2), SHA-384, and AES with 256-bit keys are necessary for the protection of Top Secret information.

Certicom Corporation of Ontario, Canada, which was purchased by BlackBerry Limited in 2009,[2] holds some elliptic curve patents, which have been licensed by NSA for United States government use. These include patents on ECMQV, but ECMQV has been dropped from Suite B. AES and SHA had been previously released and have no patent restrictions. See also RFC 6090.

In December 2006, NSA submitted an Internet Draft on implementing Suite B as part of IPsec. This draft has been accepted for publication by IETF as RFC 4869, later obsoleted by RFC 6379.

See also[edit]


  • NIST, Recommendation for Pair-Wise Key Establishment Schemes Using Discrete Logarithm Cryptography, Special Publication 800-56A
  • RFC 5759, Suite B Certificate and Certificate Revocation List (CRL) Profile
  • RFC 6239, Suite B Cryptographic Suites for Secure Shell (SSH)
  • RFC 6379, Suite B Cryptographic Suites for IPsec
  • RFC 6460, Suite B Profile for Transport Layer Security (TLS)