The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has received a total of 64 submissions for a competition to develop a new cryptographic "hash" algorithm, a tool that converts a file, message or block of data into a short "fingerprint" for use in digital signatures, message authentication and other computer security applications.
The hash algorithm ultimately chosen by NIST will be called Secure Hash Algorithm-3 (SHA-3) and will augment the hash algorithms currently specified in the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 180-3, Secure Hash Standard. FIPS standards are required for use in federal civilian computer systems and are often adopted voluntarily by private industry. (See "NIST Issues Call for a New 'Hash' Algorithm," NIST Tech Beat, Nov. 8, 2007.)
The 64 submissions are currently being reviewed; they come from groups as small as one individual and as large as 15 people. Those groups whose entries are determined to be "complete and proper" according to the competition rules will be considered "first-round candidates" and they will be posted on the NIST Web site for the competition at www.nist.gov/hash-competition.