What are the most popular encryption algorithms

Cryptography for the average consumer


Anyone who has ever used a personal computer and the Internet is said to have heard of logins and passwords. The carefree days of the earlier PCs are irrevocably over. Passwords are needed almost everywhere these days - on websites, in forums, chats, email programs, and news feeds - and this list can take forever. Take, for example, credit card numbers, PIN codes, SVN, bank account numbers and other information. In order to remember all of this, you need an extraordinary memory. Otherwise you would have to write it down somewhere. Where, then? On a napkin? On a scrap of paper? On the last page of your monthly report? But what do you do if you have to write down several numbers at the same time, such as social security or bank account numbers. You need to protect this data or it can be easily stolen. Obviously, you need a way to encrypt your data so that even if it got their hands, it might not be able to be decrypted by a hacker or scammer.

All right, so you broke an encryption program. But modern, simple encryption methods mean nothing for today's computer thieves, who are often much better informed about all data protection tricks and finesse than an average IT specialist. In order for the encryption to remain as efficient as possible, you must always use complex passwords (i.e. passwords that consist of several letters, characters and numbers) and crack-proof encryption algorithms (i.e. algorithms for which you should look for a suitable key for several hundred years).

This is exactly what cryptography was developed for - it helps "good guys" to protect their secrets from "bad guys". But there are nowhere near as many crack-proof encryption algorithms - Blowfish, Rijndael (the new AES), Twofish, Serpent and a few others. These encryption methods are also used in the US Department of Defense to protect confidential data. And these guys know how to protect their secrets.


The following password requirements apply (originally developed by military security experts):

the password should consist of at least 8 characters;

It should NOT contain any meaningful words such as first or family names or place names, etc.;

If possible, it should consist of numbers, upper and lower case letters and special characters.


What do you need that for? The code breakers use two types of attacks 99% of the time - dictionary attacks and brute force methods. Since there are around 500,000 words in total in each language, trying out all possible passwords that contain a word would take less than a day. Brute force is a method of attack in which a program generates random passwords from characters and numbers. If your password contains 8 characters, including letters AND numbers, it would take several hundred years to try and figure out your password.

To help you generate crack-proof passwords, special programs, the so-called generators of complex passwords, have been developed.

Cryptology is a science that deals with codes and passwords. Cryptology can be divided into two further research areas: cryptography and cryptanalysis. The first researches different data protection practices, the second "hacks" them. What's harder is hard to say. Most experts say that a good cryptanalyst who knows how to hack and crack the code can also "break" new stable (i.e. crack-proof) algorithms under certain circumstances.

Since the main goal of cryptography is to protect confidential data, it is mainly concerned with four different areas of security - data protection, integrity and authentication, and control of the interaction between different elements of the data exchange. In simple terms, encryption is simply converting the data into an "illegible" form. This is the primary data protection processor - protecting your secrets from strangers.

Cryptography is by far the most efficient data protection method. It was invented a thousand years ago, but has undergone rapid development thanks to new mathematical methods, especially in the last 50 years.

Since the 1950s, cryptographic methods have been used more and more in electronics. This means that EDP devices (computers) were used to generate and analyze encryption algorithms and data protection systems. The "electronic memory" for its part led to the invention of the block code when data was encrypted or decrypted block by block. Since 1970, cryptography has been actively pursued not only by the military but also by private companies. As a result, the first 64-bit standard (DES) appeared in 1978. This process continued and today almost all developed countries have their own encryption standards.

Basically, most encryption methods can be divided into symmetric (with a secret key) and asymmetric (with a public key). Each type uses its own procedures, key distribution modes, key types and encryption and decryption algorithms.

Symmetrical procedures use identical keys for the encryption and decryption of data. These keys are often used to store and protect sensitive information because they are usually not very long and can be used to quickly encrypt large amounts of data. Many people "compress" their data before encryption, which makes the process of cryptanalysis, which is usually based on recognition of the cryptic text, considerably more difficult. Most advanced programs do this automatically and offer a special encryption option for this.

Asymmetrical methods are not explained in more detail here, since their primary task is secure data transmission and not the secure storage of data.




Terminology and encryption algorithms


Encryption algorithm (code) - a mathematical function that encrypts and decrypts data. A key consisting of characters is usually required to encrypt data.

Block code - the most widely used algorithms that encrypt data in blocks of certain sizes and convert this data into blocks of the same size with the help of keys.

Blowfish - one of the most efficient data encryption algorithms developed by cryptography guru Bruce Schneier. The block size is 64 bits, the key size - up to 448 bits.

CAST - a fairly reliable algorithm with a key length of up to 64 bits. Developed by C.M. Adams and S.E. Tavares who suggested him to the AES competition.

OF - an outdated encryption standard used in the USA. Due to security deficiencies (can be cracked by any modern computer in 2 days) it was replaced by AES. Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

GOST - Soviet algorithm developed by KGB in the late 1970s. Works with 64-bit blocks. Key length up to 256 bits. Except for a few discovered security holes, this algorithm is still considered to be rather reliable. GOST is the official encryption standard of the Russian Federation.

Rijndael - an encryption algorithm developed by Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen. Corresponds to the AES standard (Advanced Encryption Standard). The Rijndael algorithm uses variable key lengths of 128, 192 or 256 bits and corresponding block sizes.

Twofish - Successor to the Blowfish algorithm developed by Bruce Schneier. Applies to crack-proof (no known cases of code cracking).

3DES - Encryption algorithm based on the DES method, in which DES is executed three times with different keys each time, which increases the reliability compared to DES, but generally does not change the situation radically (still vulnerable).

RC4 - a stream encryption algorithm used in many network security systems (such as the SSL protocol in Netscape and Windows NT password encryption). The main advantages of this code are its very high speed and adjustable key size. This algorithm was developed in RSA by Ronald Rivest. RC means "Ron's Code" or "Rivest Cipher". RC4 was the intellectual property of RSA until 1995.

Serpent - Encryption algorithm developed by Lars Ramkilde Knudsen, a famous cryptographer and cryptanalyst. Lars Knudsen is known for his successful crypto attacks on several popular codes. He has taught at Norwegian, Swedish and Belgian universities. He is currently working as a mathematics professor at the Technical University of Denmark.

Tea - a complex encryption algorithm (Tiny Encryption Algorithm). Its distinctive feature is its very small size. Tea is very simple, does not use tabular values ​​and has been specially optimized for 32-bit processor architecture, which enables it to be used with ASSEMBLER even if the code size is extremely small. The disadvantages include slow work and the need to scramble data because it does not use tables.


Dictionary attack - a type of crypto attack in which a dictionary is used with words that are particularly often used as passwords. This attack method is helpless if "meaningless" words are used in passwords.

Brute force - the most widely used type of crypto attacks. It is called "brute force" because the attacker (of course the computer does all of this) tries out different keys obtained by randomly combining special characters, letters and numbers. It takes an average of several years to crack a 128-bit key with a brute force attack. The more characters the password and / or key contains, the more time it takes to crack the code (up to several hundred years).




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