[ISN] ITL Bulletin for May 2008

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Sat May 31 2008 - 01:24:06 PDT

Forwarded from: Elizabeth Lennon <elizabeth.lennon (at) nist.gov>



Shirley Radack, Editor
Computer Security Division
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
U.S. Department of Commerce

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Information 
Technology Laboratory, is soliciting candidates for a new and robust 
cryptographic hash algorithm for use by federal government agencies in 
protecting their information systems and information. The invitation to 
submit candidate algorithms was issued by NIST last November, and all 
nominations must be received by NIST by October 31, 2008.

NIST is conducting an open, public process to identify suitable 
candidates for the new hash algorithm, which is needed because of recent 
advances in the cryptanalysis of hash functions. The new hash algorithm 
will be named SHA-3, and it will augment the hash algorithms currently 
specified in Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 180-2, 
Secure Hash Standard. In a Federal Register Notice (Vol. 72, No. 212, 
pp. 62212-20) published on November 2, 2007, NIST invited interested 
parties to submit nominations, and provided the nomination requirements 
and the minimum acceptability requirements for the new algorithm. The 
notice also included the evaluation criteria that will be used to assess 
the nominations. The November Federal Register Notice is available on 
NIST’s Web page: 


Use of Hash Functions

Hash algorithms accept potentially large variable size input messages 
and produce a small (generally in the range of 160- to 512-bit) 
fixed-size output called a hash value or message digest, which is a 
condensed representation of the electronic data in the message. Hash 
functions are used as building blocks in many cryptographic algorithms 
and processes. In a digital signature application, the hash value of the 
message is signed instead of the message itself; the signature can later 
be used to verify the message signer as well as the integrity of the 
signed message.

A secure hash function is essentially a collision-resistant, one-way 
function. Collision resistance means that it is extremely difficult to 
find two different messages with the same hash value. One way means that 
it is easy to compute the hash value from the input, but the reverse 
operation is extremely difficult. As a result, hash functions are often 
used to determine whether or not data has changed. Many algorithms and 
processes that provide a security service use a hash function as a 
component of the algorithm or process, such as:

• Keyed hash message authentication code (HMAC) • Digital signatures 
• Key derivation functions • Random number generators.

Secure Hash Standard

The federal government’s first hash standard was issued by NIST in 1993 
as Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 180, Secure Hash 
Standard, which specified the hash algorithm SHA-0. This standard was 
revised and issued as FIPS 180-1 in 1995 and as FIPS 180-2 in 2002. 
These revisions replaced the original SHA-0 with more secure algorithms: 
the 160-bit SHA-1 and the SHA-2 family of hash functions, which includes 
SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, and SHA-512 where the suffix indicates the 
size of the message digest.

Recently, cryptanalysts have found ways to attack several commonly used 
hash functions, and vulnerabilities have been published on SHA-1. 
Although no practical attacks have been successful to date against 
SHA-1, NIST decided that a new hash algorithm is needed to augment the 
hash algorithms that are currently available and to provide strengthened 
security for digital signature and other applications for future years.

The public competition for a new hash algorithm was modeled after the 
very successful Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) competition - a 
process that NIST had followed to develop the AES (FIPS 197). NIST 
launched the AES competition by first publishing the minimum 
requirements, submission requirements, and the evaluation criteria for 
public comment. An AES workshop was held to discuss these requirements 
and evaluation criteria before a call for new algorithms was issued. The 
review, analysis, and a variety of tests of the submitted algorithms 
were conducted in stages, by NIST and by the international cryptographic 
community. Public feedback was provided through an electronic forum and 
public conferences. After the winning algorithm was selected, NIST 
published a report that documented the AES development effort as well as 
the final selection.

Technical Considerations for SHA-3

NIST does not plan to withdraw the SHA-2 algorithms unless serious flaws 
are found, and is interested in SHA-3 candidates that can be substituted 
for SHA-2 in current applications and that can provide message digests 
of 224, 256, 384, and 512 bits. The 160-bit hash value produced by SHA-1 
is becoming too small to use for digital signatures; therefore, a 
160-bit replacement hash algorithm is not contemplated.

SHA-3 should preserve the following properties of SHA-2 hash functions:

* input parameters
* output sizes
* collision resistance, preimage resistance, and second-preimage 
* “one-pass” streaming mode of execution.

It is also desirable that SHA-3 offer features or properties that 
exceed, or improve upon, SHA-2.

The security strength of SHA-3 should be as close to the theoretical 
maxim as possible for the different required hash sizes, and for both 
the collision resistance and one-way properties. SHA-3 algorithms should 
be designed so that a potentially successful attack on SHA-2 would not 
be successful on SHA-3 functions. In addition, SHA-3 should be 
implementable on a variety of platforms, and should be more efficient 
than the hash algorithms currently specified in FIPS 180-2.

For interoperability, NIST strongly desires a single hash algorithm 
family that generates different message digest sizes in a similar 
manner. However, if more than one suitable candidate family is 
identified, and each provides significant advantages, NIST may consider 
recommending more than one family for inclusion in the revised Secure 
Hash Standard.

Minimum Acceptability Requirements

To be considered as a candidate, the hash algorithm must be publicly 
disclosed and available worldwide without royalties or any intellectual 
property restrictions. The algorithm also must be capable of being 
implemented on a wide range of hardware and software platforms. The 
candidate algorithm must support message digest sizes of 224, 256, 384, 
and 512 bits, and must support a maximum message length of at least 
264-1 bits.

Evaluation Criteria

The security provided by an algorithm is the most important factor to be 
considered in the evaluation of candidate algorithms. Algorithms with 
the same hash length will be compared for the security that may be 
provided in applications such as digital signatures, key derivation, 
HMAC, and other applications. The candidate algorithm must support HMAC, 
pseudo random functions (PRFs), and randomized hashing. Each candidate 
algorithm must have at least one construction to support HMAC as a PRF; 
it may have additional constructions for other non-HMAC-based PRFs or 
for use in a randomized hashing scheme.

Hash algorithms will be evaluated against attacks or observations that 
may threaten existing or proposed applications, or demonstrate some 
fundamental flaw in the design, such as exhibiting nonrandom behavior 
and failing statistical tests. Attacks that violate the security of 
applications implementing an existing FIPS or a NIST Recommendation will 
be consider more serious than attacks on rare or obscure applications.

In addition to security considerations, candidate algorithms will be 
evaluated for the clarity of documentation of the algorithm, the quality 
of the analysis on the algorithm performed by the submitters, the 
simplicity of the algorithm, and the confidence of NIST and 
cryptographic community have in the long-term security of the algorithm. 
Other issues are the computational efficiency of the candidate algorithm 
for both hardware and software implementations. The memory required for 
both hardware and software implementations of a candidate algorithm will 
be considered. NIST will test for memory requirements, and invites 
public evaluations as well.

Evaluation and Selection Process

After the close of the call for candidate algorithm submission packages, 
NIST will review the documentation received to determine if the 
submissions are complete and in proper form. After this preliminary 
review, NIST will post the candidate algorithms for the first round of 
public review on the Web page: http://www.nist.gov/hash-competition.

NIST will conduct a twelve-month public review period for the first 
round to evaluate the candidate algorithms. An open public conference 
will be held after the period for submission of candidate algorithms for 
SHA-3 ends on October 31, 2008. The submitters of each complete and 
proper candidate algorithm package will be invited to discuss and 
explain their candidate algorithms. The documentation for these 
candidate algorithms will be made available at the conference. Details 
of the conference will be posted on NIST’s Web page referenced above.

NIST will form an internal selection panel composed of NIST employees to 
analyze the candidate algorithms, and will make the results of its 
analyses publicly available. NIST also invites public evaluation and 
publication of the results, including any complete or partial analysis 
of a candidate algorithm or component of an algorithm.

The technical committee that NIST appoints to review the submitted 
algorithms will also review the public comments received on the posted 
submissions, as well as all presentations, discussions, and technical 
papers presented at the first SHA-3 Candidate Conference, and other 
relevant cryptographic research. During this review period, NIST intends 
to perform correctness check, efficiency and other testing. The public 
is invited to conduct similar testing and to compare results on 
additional platforms.

A second SHA-3 Candidate Conference will be held near the end of the 
first period of review and public evaluation. The international 
cryptographic community will be invited to publicly discuss the 
candidate SHA-3 algorithms and to provide NIST with information to help 
narrow the candidate pool to approximately five candidate algorithms for 
more careful study and analysis during the second review period.

During the second round of review, NIST will conduct a variety of 
computational efficiency tests on the candidates on various platforms 
for the minimum message digest sizes specified. The rights to those 
candidates not selected for the second round of review will be returned 
to their owners. At the start of the second review period, submitters 
will have the option of providing updated optimized implementations for 
use during this phase of evaluation.

NIST will select approximately five candidates for intensive public 
scrutiny for a twelve- to fifteen-month period. At the end of this 
review period, NIST will hold a third SHA-3 Candidate Conference to 
discuss the finalist candidates. After this third conference, NIST 
expects to select the winning algorithm, and to document the technical 
rationale for the selection in a final report. NIST then expects to 
propose a revised Secure Hash Standard that will include the newly 
selected SHA-3 for public review. To ensure standard compliance and 
interoperability among different implementations, NIST intends to 
develop a validation program for hash algorithm conformance testing by 
the time SHA-3 is incorporated into the revised Secure Hash Standard.

Information about the Cryptographic Hash Algorithm Competition

See NIST’s Web page: http://www.nist.gov/hash-competition.

Contact Information for Submission of Candidate Algorithms

Email address for general information: Hash-function@private

Candidate algorithm submission packages should be sent to:

Ms. Shu-jen Chang
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Attention: Hash Algorithm Submissions
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8930
Gaithersburg, MD  20899-8930

Questions related to specific submission packages
may be directed to:
Shu-jen Chang
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8930
Gaithersburg, MD  20899-8930
Telephone: 301-975-2940, Email:
shu-jen.chang@private, Fax: 301-975-8670.

Questions concerning the technical requirements
for SHA-3 may be directed to:

Mr. William Burr
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8930
Gaithersburg, MD  20899-8930
Telephone: 301-975-2914, Email:
william.burr@private, Fax: 301-975-8670.

Related Publications

The following FIPS and NIST Special Publications (SPs) require the use 
of a NIST-approved hash algorithm:

FIPS 186-2, Digital Signature Standard

FIPS 198, The Keyed-Hash Message Authentication Code (HMAC)

NIST SP 800-56A, Recommendation for Pair-Wise Key Establishment Schemes 
Using Discrete Logarithm Cryptography

NIST SP 800-90, Recommendation for Random Number Generation Using 
Deterministic Random Bit Generators (DRBGs)

For information about NIST standards and guidelines that are referenced 
in this bulletin, as well as other security-related publications, see 
NIST’s Web page: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/index.html.

Any mention of commercial products or reference to commercial 
organizations is for information only; it does not imply recommendation 
or endorsement by NIST nor does it imply that the products mentioned are 
necessarily the best available for the purpose.

Elizabeth B. Lennon
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8900
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8900
Telephone (301) 975-2832
Fax (301) 975-2378

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