I was recently watching Sneakers (which Len Adleman advised on their "cryptography" sub-plot), which included a line along the lines of:

[Some hardware that ostensibly breaks American cryptography] doesn't work against Russian codes.

The speech that Adleman advised on seems vaguely like a description of a more powerful Number Field Sieve [1], so this would be consistent with Russia having standardized something like McEliece. Of course, I doubt they have done this, but in thinking about this I realized I have no clue what they have standardized, and therefore no clue if this was a plot hole, or excellent writing.

This leads to the broader question: Are there cryptosystems that have not been widely adopted in the West, that have been standardized by other major countries?

I'll include a handful of examples that I am aware of:

  • The Lattice-based KEM LAC was recently chosen in China's variant of the NIST PQC competition.
  • There are the Russian block ciphers GOST, and on Kuznyechik.

In this question I am mostly interested in historical example though (so of the above, mostly interested in GOST). Are there other well-known examples? I would especially be interested in asymmetric schemes, given the motivation to better understand Sneakers.

[1] Funnily enough, this came out ~ 1 year before the general number field sieve was published, but Adleman was not on that paper.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this question covers yours, too. Do any non-US ciphers exist?, Though 7 years old. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ @kelalaka Thanks, this seems like a good reference on the symmetric side of things. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Schultz-Wu
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 20:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I thought Russia was part of the Western World. Russia isn't eastern, it isn't Arab, it isn't African, it isn't Latin American. So I think it's part of the Western World $\endgroup$
    – user93353
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 8:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PaulUszak - Russia is a big country. It spans both Northern Asia & Eastern Europe. However, that's a continent based classification. My point is about the phrase "Western World". In general, the world is classified into Western, Eastern, Arabic, African & Latin American. The Western World is also called Occidental & Eastern as Oriental. I have never heard of Russia being referred to as part of the Eastern World or called Oriental. $\endgroup$
    – user93353
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 11:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PaulUszak - as I said before, which Continent Russia lies in doesn't determine whether it's part of the eastern or western world. $\endgroup$
    – user93353
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 12:05

2 Answers 2


Are there cryptosystems that have not been widely adopted in the West, that have been standardized by other major countries?

Camellia is a block cipher similar in performance and security to AES. It was standardized by Japan's CRYPTREC and although various Western countries have standardized implementations of it, it is quite uncommonly used in the West. In 2014, Firefox disabled support for it in TLS.


Chinese Standards:

Identity Based Encryption:

SM9 is a Chinese national cryptography standard for Identity Based Cryptography issued by the Chinese State Cryptographic Authority in March 2016 including asymmetric encryption, digital signature, key encapsulation and key wrapping algorithms.

See the eprint paper here

Block Cipher:

SM4 (formerly SMS4) is a block cipher used in the Chinese National Standard for Wireless LAN WAPI (Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure).

The SM4 algorithm was declassified in January, 2006, and it became a national standard (GB/T 32907-2016) in August 2016. See the internet draft here

Russian Standards:

I have seen no evidence (it doesn't mean there is none) that any public key schemes were standardised in Russia prior to 2001.

However, there is the following digital signature standard using Elliptic Curve cryptography:

GOST R 34.10–2012

GOST R 34.10-2012 describes the generation and verification processes for digital signatures, based on operations with an elliptic curve points group, defined over a prime finite field.

The necessity for developing this standard is caused by the need to implement digital signatures of varying resistance due to growth of computer technology. Digital signature security is based on the complexity of discrete logarithm calculation in an elliptic curve points group and also on the security of the hash function used (according to GOST R 34.11-2012 [GOST3411-2012]).

This document refers to an earlier standard GOST R 34.11-2001 which is also elliptic curve based.

Disclaimer: I haven't the time to check whether these are not simply local copies of ISO standards.


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