Block Party: A Cryptographic Standard Shindig

By Justin Troutman

If you were to ask me about my opinion on the best contributions to cryptography, over the past few decades, my answer wouldn’t really be specific to cryptography at all. It’s not a stream cipher, a block cipher, a hash function, or a protocol. In fact, it’s really nothing we “use”, as consumers of security, per se. However, it is something that gages what we use; it’s a cryptographic competition. Such a competition is basically a selection process that involves cryptographers with competing designs. These designs are pummeled by rounds and rounds of cryptanalysis. Aside from scrutinizing the security aspects of the designs, various design metrics and criteria are introduced, to examine their performance and efficiency attributes, in a myriad of software and hardware environments. A potential standard must obviously be secure, but it’s vital that it makes good time, and keeps the cost down, in the process. Otherwise it’s not going to cut it. Even robust security isn’t enough to make…

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