The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Computer Security Division has launched a public competition to develop a new cryptographic secure hash algorithm, which NIST is naming "SHA-3." NIST monitors successful attacks on cryptographic hash functions including non-NIST approved ones. The SHA-3 contest is the next stage in the agency's effort to stay ahead of the state of the art in cryptanalysis. The competition deadline is October 31, 2008; however, NIST is reserving the right to modify the date depending on the state of the entrants received by then.
The new algorithm will augment, rather than replace, the SHA-2 hash algorithms in the current standard, FIPS 180-2, which was issued in August 2002. Proposals for the new algorithm need to preserve a number of functions in the SHA-2 hash, including the input parameters, output sizes, and so on. At the same time the new hash should be designed to be invulnerable to any future, successful attack on SHA-2 (No successful attacks have yet been reported on the SHA-2 algorithms). NIST will also be judging improvements in the computational efficiency of the new standard. Full contest details are available online. Submitters are strongly encouraged to submit only one, best algorithm each.
After the competition is completed, NIST plans to announce first-round candidates at a conference in 2009. The final hash function will be presented in 2012. For more information, visit the NIST Cryptographic Hash Project