The final five entrants in the SHA-3 encryption hash run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been made public.
The NIST competition is part of a long-term project to develop the next generation of encryption technology. In the announcement BLAKE, Grøstl, JH, Keccak and Skein all made it through.
The NIST project started the search for SHA-3 in 2007 and has been whittling down the list for the past two years, excluding 53 entrants from some of the biggest names in the business, including IBM, France Telecom and Sandia National Laboratories.
The long test period is important considering the essential nature of secure SHA-3 methodology.
“What they are trying to do is produce a hash function that the community internationally will think is good and will be a stand for the next 20 years,” Jon Callas, PGP fellow and member of the team behind Skein, told V3.co.uk.
“Getting an extra couple of years for people to study things is to the benefit of everyone right now.”
The competition has, however, thrown up worrying questions about the level of security research in the US. The finalists are dominated by European and Asian consortia but nationality is not an issue, Callas said.
“Our team is an international one that includes a couple of Europeans. We’re motivated by the best security solution.”
SHA-2 is still secure, Callas said. Early reports of attacks had been shown to have no practical application.
Security guru Bruce Schneier is also one of the team members working on the Skein hash. He has expressed confidence in the security of the final list.
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