The government looked for, and found, a few good algorithms. Specifically, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is about to conclude a competition for a new way to secure online transactions. The current encryption algorithm was considered safe, until a Chinese computer expert exposed weaknesses back in 2005. That algorithm, known as SHA-1, is still in use. Its cousin, SHA-2, has some of the same weaknesses. New Scientist.com reports, NIST received 64 entries. It narrowed them down to five finalists. Now the agency will pit those five against crypo-analysts, who will attempt to break the algorithms. The winner will be selected in 2012. That new standard will be known as, you guessed it, SHA-3.
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Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-10 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.