Global contest nets encryption standard.For 3 years, a digital demolition derby demolition derby
A contest in which drivers crash old cars into each other until only one is left running. pitted teams of cryptographers against each other in a fierce battle of different schemes for protecting information from prying eyes.
Now, there is only one survivor: a data-scrambling technique called Rijndael (pronounced RHINE-doll). The name is patched together from those of its Belgian inventors, computer scientists Vincent Rijmen Vincent Rijmen (born 16 October 1970, in Leuven, near Brussels, Belgium) is a Belgian cryptographer and one of the designers of the Rijndael, the Advanced Encryption Standard. of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven The KATHOLIEKE UNIVERSITEIT LEUVEN (Catholic University of Leuven in English) or in short K.U.Leuven, is the largest, oldest, and most prominent university in Belgium. in Heverlee, Belgium, and Joan Daemen of Proton World International in Brussels, which develops smart-card technology.
Officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology National Institute of Standards and Technology, governmental agency within the U.S. Dept. of Commerce with the mission of "working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards" in the national interest. (NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology, Washington, DC, www.nist.gov) The standards-defining agency of the U.S. government, formerly the National Bureau of Standards. It is one of three agencies that fall under the Technology Administration (www.technology. ) in Gaithersburg, Md., which orchestrated the contest, announced the result this week. "This process has been an amazing, truly global competition, reflecting the worldwide nature of information-security needs," says NIST Director Ray Kammer.
After a period of further public review, Rijndael is slated to become the federal government's new formula--its Advanced Encryption Standard--for securing sensitive, unclassified un·clas·si·fied
1. Not placed or included in a class or category: unclassified mail.
2. information. It would replace the venerable Data Encryption Standard See DES.
Data Encryption Standard - (DES) The NBS's popular, standard encryption algorithm. It is a product cipher that operates on 64-bit blocks of data, using a 56-bit key. It is defined in FIPS 46-1 (1988) (which supersedes FIPS 46 (1977)). (DES), which has been widely used in government and business since its adoption in 1977.
Two years ago, a computer custom-built by researchers to crack DES required just hours to identify the numerical key used to scramble and then recover a secret message (SN: 8/1/98, p. 77). That key was a particular sequence of 56 1s and 0s out of 72 quadrillion One thousand times one trillion, which is 1, followed by 15 zeros, or 10 to the 15th power. See space/time. possibilities. Rijndael permits encryption keys that are 128, 192, or 256 bits long, which would take many times the age of the universe to find by trial and error, say NIST cryptographers.
At the heart of Rijndael is a mathematical procedure that manipulates blocks of numbers by shifting rows and columns in ways that are impossible to discern without applying the correct numerical key.
NIST cryptographers and many experts outside the agency evaluated 15 competing encryption schemes for factors such as security, speed, and flexibility. Rijndael provides the best balance of robustness and versatility, Kammer says.
Rijndael is particularly easy to implement. It's also compact enough for personal computers and smart cards, which incorporate microelectronic circuitry. Several products, including software for secure Internet access and for remote teaching or videoconferencing, already use the Rijndael system.
Rijmen and Daemen won't get rich from their invention, however. By participating in the NIST contest, they agreed to make their algorithm freely available.