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Competition planned for new crypto standards

Attack on current standards prompts National Institute of Standards and Technology to look for alternatives.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is planning a public competition to develop one or more cryptographic "hash" algorithms, it said Tuesday.

Such algorithms are widely used by the federal government and others in applications such as digital signatures and message authentication. However, the current cryptographic standards are under continued attack, weakening their security.

"Because serious attacks have been reported in recent years against cryptographic hash algorithms, including SHA-1, NIST is preparing the groundwork for a more secure hash standard," the organization, a federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration, said on its Web site.

Any newly approved algorithm is meant for federal use or to revise the current Secure Hash Standard, NIST said on its site.

As a first step, the ageny is looking for comments on a draft for minimum acceptability requirements, submission requirements and evaluation criteria for candidate algorithms.

See NIST's Web site for more information on the proposed security standard competition.