August 24, 2010

Data Encryption Standard (DES)

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The Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a block cipher (a form of shared secret
encryption) that was selected by the National Bureau of Standards as an official
Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) for the United States in 1976 and
which has subsequently enjoyed widespread use internationally. It is based on a
symmetric-key algorithm that uses a 56-bit key. The algorithm was initially
controversial with classified design elements, a relatively short key length,
and suspicions about a National Security Agency (NSA) backdoor. DES consequently
came under intense academic scrutiny which motivated the modern understanding of
block ciphers and their cryptanalysis.

DES is now considered to be insecure for many applications. This is chiefly due
to the 56-bit key size being too small; in January, 1999, and
the Electronic Frontier Foundation collaborated to publicly break a DES key in
22 hours and 15 minutes (see chronology). There are also some analytical results
which demonstrate theoretical weaknesses in the cipher, although they are
unfeasible to mount in practice. The algorithm is believed to be practically
secure in the form of Triple DES, although there are theoretical attacks. In
recent years, the cipher has been superseded by the Advanced Encryption Standard

In some documentation, a distinction is made between DES as a standard and DES
the algorithm which is referred to as the DEA (the Data Encryption Algorithm).

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