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.