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NIST Looks to Public on Revision to Computer Security Standard

New York, Jan 23, 2007

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is planning a public competition to develop cryptographic hash algorithms that would enhance a computer security standard used by federal agencies. Such algorithms are commonly used in information security applications, including message authentication and integrity.

The initiative was prompted by reports of security attacks against one of several algorithms specified in the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 180-2, Secure Hash Standard. The competition is intended as a means of developing additional robust algorithms capable of protecting sensitive government information well into the future.

As a first step in the standard development process, NIST is seeking comment from all stakeholders on draft minimum acceptability requirements, submission requirements and evaluation criteria for candidate hash functions. Stakeholders identified by NIST include voluntary standards organizations, manufacturers, researchers, the cryptographic community, members of academia, government and the general public.

The draft requirements and evaluation criteria are detailed in the January 23, 2007, Federal Register notice. A proposed timeline for the development of the new hash functions has also been made available for public review.

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