Data Encryption Standard

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The Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a block cipher that uses shared secret encryption. It 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, distributed.net 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 infeasible 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 In recent years, the cipher has been superseded by the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Furthermore, DES has been withdrawn as a standard by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards).

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). When spoken, "DES" is either spelled out as an abbreviation (/ˌdiːˌiːˈɛs/), or pronounced as a one-syllable acronym (/ˈdɛz/).

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