Reality is firmly rooted: we don’t quite yet have quantum computers, nor have we really proven that P != NP. Yet while cracking most modern encryption and hash algorithms falls into the “not impossible, just highly improbable” category, academic weaknesses do get attention. So much so that the old SHA-1 and MD5 hashing mainstays are no longer considered acceptable. Soon enough, SHA-2 will also be as uncool as a rickroll.
Just in the nick of time, the NIST is narrowing the list of candidates for the new SHA-3 algorithm. The second round just finished, and it’s down to 14 candidates, with the winner to be chosen before the Aztec calendar ends in 2012. It should be a good contest, as long as FIFA referees aren’t involved.
This is exciting stuff, and I’m sure you’ll want to play along. Just use your jailbroken, Kraken–proofed cell phone to text your favorite to 2600. I’m pulling for Skein, mainly because of the cool name and celebrity status.