The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the first-round candidates for its open cryptographic competition to select a new state-of-the-art "hash algorithm"—to be known as SHA-3—that will be added to government standards for securing digital signatures and other applications. (See "NIST Issues Call for a New 'Hash' Algorithm," Tech Beat, Nov.8, 2007.)
Out of 64 submissions received by this past fall's deadline for the competition, NIST found 51 entries to be "complete and proper" and has posted those candidates on the competition Web site. Since the candidates have been posted, three of their submitters have conceded that their algorithms are broken. This and other information on the algorithms is being regularly updated on the competition Web site, which welcomes public comments on the entries.
Submitters of the first-round candidates are invited to present their submissions at a conference in February. By 2012, NIST plans to hold two more conferences to narrow down the candidates and decide upon the finalist. The first-round candidates have been posted at NIST's Computer Security Resource Center.