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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has requested public comments on the draft for the Secure Hash Algorithm-3 (SHA-3) Standard, which is designed to protect the integrity of encryption for digital message transfer.

“Cryptographic hash algorithms are a cornerstone of modern information security. They transform a digital message into a short “message digest” for use in digital signatures,” a NIST statements said. “Even a small change in the original message text creates a change in the digest, making it easier to detect accidental or intentional changes to the original message. Hash algorithms are used by many security applications, including random bit generation.”

Back in November 2007, NIST held a competition for the development a new cryptographic hash algorithm to support the the standard hashing algorithms defined in the FIPS 180 Secure Hash Standard, and subsequently selected Keccak as the winner in 2012, which the recent SHA-3 family of permutation-based functions is based on.

“The draft Federal Information Processing Standard Publication 202, SHA-3 Standard: Permutation-Based Hash and Extendable-Output Functions, specifies six permutation-based “sponge” functions based on Keccak, the winning algorithm selected from NIST’s SHA-3 Cryptographic Hash Algorithm Competition,” the NIST statement continued.

“The functions include four fixed-length cryptographic hash functions, and two closely related ‘extendable-output’ functions (XOFs). The four fixed-length hash functions provide alternatives to the SHA-2 family of hash functions specified in FIPS 180, Secure Hash Standard, which FIPS 202 will supplement. The XOFs can be specialized to hash functions, subject to additional security considerations, or used in a variety of other applications.”

The draft is available here (PDF), and NIST will be soliciting omments from the public on the draft of FIPS 202 over the next three months (August 26, 2014) which can be sent to NIST either electronically or by mail, and will incorporate them into the final version of the standard.

“NIST strongly encourages the public to continue analyzing the security of the Keccak family of permutation-based sponge functions in general, and the six algorithms specified in this draft of FIPS 202 in particular, and to submit those analyses as official comments in response to this request.”

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