Cryptographers from around the world have laid their best work on the line in a contest to find a new algorithm that will become a critical part of future communications across the Internet. The winning code will become a building block of a wide variety of Internet protocols, including those used to safeguard communications between banks and their customers.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) organized the competition and plans to release a short list (NIST has already received 64 entries for the competition and is looking for ways to narrow down the list) of the best entries by the end of this month, beginning a four-year process of analysis to find the overall winner.
NIST has opened the public competition to develop a new cryptographic hash algorithm, which converts a variable length message into a short “message digest” that can be used for digital signatures, message authentication and other applications. The competition is NIST’s response to recent advances in the cryptanalysis of hash functions.