Explain Data Encryption Standard (DES) in detail.
Subject Computer and Network Security
NU Year Set: 2.(a) Marks: 5 Year: 2017

The Data Encryption Standard (DES) is an outdated symmetric-key method of data encryption.

DES works by using the same key to encrypt and decrypt a message, so both the sender and the receiver must know and use the same private key. Once the go-to, symmetric-key algorithm for the encryption of electronic data, DES has been superseded by the more secure Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

The Data Encryption Standard is a block cipher, meaning a cryptographic key and algorithm are applied to a block of data simultaneously rather than one bit at a time. To encrypt a plaintext message, DES groups it into 64-bit blocks. Each block is enciphered using the secret key into a 64-bit cipher text by means of permutation and substitution. The process involves 16 rounds and can run in four different modes, encrypting blocks individually or making each cipher block dependent on all the previous blocks. Decryption is simply the inverse of encryption, following the same steps but reversing the order in which the keys are applied. For any cipher, the most basic method of attack is brute force, which involves  trying each key until you find the right one. The length of the key determines the number of possible keys -- and hence the feasibility -- of this type of attack. DES uses a 64-bit key, but eight of those bits are used for parity checks, effectively limiting the key to 56-bits. Hence, it would take a maximum of 2^56, or 72,057,594,037,927,936, attempts to find the correct key.

 

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