A paper about DES, the Data Encryption Standard

Write a paper between one and two pages long about DES and its policy implications. The paper is due Tuesday, 11/9/99 (this date was changed on Wednesday, 11/3/99). Several topics are suggested below. Explain any technical terms you use carefully using standard English sentences and ideas. Let me know before you do substantial work if you want to write about a different topic related to DES.

Links about DES

You may certainly look for information on your own. Here is a short list I've compiled in the last week or so. A web search will yield hundreds of more links to consider.

Please cite any references you use.

Interesting quote #1 A web page at MIT has links to programs for algorithms including DES, RC4, and MD5. RC4 is a stream cipher used for web commerce (class discussion, 11/2/99). DES is a block cipher considered here (class discussion, 11/5/99). We may discuss MD5 and authentication later in the course.

... the code linked from this page cannot be exported from the USA, except to Canada. if you are not a citizen of the US or Canada, please find this code elsewhere on the net.

Interesting quote #2 From chapter 10 of the book Cracking DES (a link to this is given below):

Security is little more than economics. A cryptographic system is secure when it costs more to break it than the data it is protecting is worth. Accordingly, determining the strength of an encryption algorithm comes down to measuring the cost of the cryptanalytic resources needed to break the system. That explains the basic need for an evaluation of the cryptanalytic performance possible today.

  A very brief description of DES.
  The official description of DES.
  The Electronic Freedom Foundation's web page about "cracking DES": many links to press releases, news articles, etc. about the cheapest, fastest publically known way of cracking DES.
  Pictures of the cracking machine.
  A discussion of ``cracking DES'' by exhaustive search. It describes how such a search can be distributed over the net. This was the most widely publicized method of breaking DES before the machine described above was constructed.
  A more technical version of the article above including such figures as ``keys searched per day''.
  The introduction to the book about cracking DES. It includes useful general information on such efforts and introduces some policy questions.
  The chapter of the cracking book discussing the politics and legalities of publishing a book on cracking DES.
  An analysis of cracking various common crypto algorithms by exhaustive search of the keyspace.
  Recent Federal response to the DES cracking machine (contrast it with statements made only months before by Federal representatives).
  This and its successor web pages are nice outlines of many aspects of DES.

Maintained by greenfie@math.rutgers.edu and last modified 11/3/99.