Cryptography Algorithms


  • The act of making something difficult to understand.
  • Substitution Cipher - Substitutes one symbol for another.
    • Example: ROT13 (rotate 13 places)
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  • XOR (eXclusive OR) - a logical operation that outputs true only when inputs differ (one is true, the other is false).
The Exclusive-OR function in terms of OR and AND.

Symmetric Algorithms

  • Data Encryption Standard (DES)
    • Adopted by NIST in 1977.
    • Block cipher using 64-bit blocks (56-bit key + 8 bits of parity).
    • Short key length subject to brute-force attacks.
  • 3DES (Triple DES)
    • DES algorithm computed three times.
    • Using a 'key bundle' three different DES keys, each of 56 bits = total bit strength of 168 bits (known as 3TDEA).
    • Also options to reuse keys.
    • Uses 48 rounds of computation.
      • Offers high resistance to differential cryptana
  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
    • Original name 'Rijndael"
    • Free for any use public or private, commercial or non-commercial.
    • Adopted by NIST in 2001.
    • Block cipher with 128 block size.
    • Three key lengths: 128, 192, and 256.
    • It uses multiple encryption rounds to reach these key lengths:
      • 10 rounds for 128-bit
      • 12 rounds for 192-bit
      • 14 rounds for 256-bit
  • RC4 / RC5 / RC6 - Rivest Cipher
    • RC4 - Stream Cipher
    • RC5/6 - Block Ciphers
    • Works with key sizes between 40 and 2048 bits.
  • Blowfish / Twofish
    • A symmetric block cipher that can use variable-length keys from 32 bits to 447 bits.
    • Twofish uses 128-bit blocks.
  • International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA)
    • 128-bit key
    • Similar to DES, but more secure due to having a longer key.
    • Used in PGP.
  • One-Time Pad (OTP)
    • Most secure crypto implementation.
    • Use of a key as long as the plain-text message.
    • Only used once, then destroyed.
  • Skipjack
    • NSA developed block cipher used in clipper chip.
    • Uses an 80-bit key to encrypt 64-bit blocks of data.
  • GOST
    • A Soviet and Russian government standard symmetric key block cipher.
    • Block size of 64 bits.
    • Developed to counter Data Encryption Standard (DES).
  • Psuedo Random Number Generator (PRNG)
    • A type of algorithm that generates a number that is "random enough" for cryptographic purposes.
    • Used in AES, DES, and Blowfish.

Cipher Modes

  • Counter Mode (CTR)
    • Turns a block cipher into a stream cipher.
    • Used to generate a keystream.
    • Each block combines a nonce or IV with a sequentially assigned number to produce a unique counter block that is then encrypted.
  • Cipher-Block Chaining (CBC)
    • Uses an IV with the first block.
    • Thereafter, each block of plain text is obfuscated with the cipher text from the previous block before it is encrypted.
    • Introduces more diffusion & reduces effects of plain-text attacks.
  • Electronic Code Book (ECB)
    • The easiest method.
    • Direct encryption of each block of input plaintext.
    • Output is in form of blocks of encrypted ciphertext.
  • Cipher Feedback Mode (CFB)
    • Uses an initial chaining vector (ICV) in its processing.
    • Performs cipher feedback encryption.
    • Operates on segments instead of blocks.
  • Galois/Counter Mode
    • Used with symmetric-key key block ciphers.
    • An authentication encryption designed to give both integrity and confidentiality.
    • Used with 128 bit block ciphers.

Asymmetric Encryption

  • Uses two keys.
    • One for encryption.
    • One for decryption.
  • Keys are mathematically related.
  • Public / Private key encryption.
  • Only the private key needs to be kept secret.
  • Only the private key can decrypt the message.

Asymmetric Algorithms

  • Extra computational overhead.
  • Used primarily for:
    • Secure exchange of shared keys for symmetric encryption.
    • Digital signatures.
  • Solves the issue of key exchange with symmetric encryption.
  • Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman (RSA)
    • Used for key exchange and digital signatures.
    • Key can be any length.
    • Algorithm works by multiplying two large prime numbers.
    • Derives two different numbers: one public key and one private key.
  • Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange (D-H)
    • Two parties, without prior arrangement, can agree on a secret key that is known only to them.
    • Only used to generate a shared key (not encryption).
    • Key can be safely & secretly shared on a public network.
  • Diffie-Hellman Ephemeral (DHE)
    • Uses a different key for every conversation.
    • Supports perfect forward secrecy.
  • Elliptical Curve Cryptography (ECC)
    • Technique using elliptical curves to calculate simple but difficult-to-break encryption keys.
    • Uses smaller key sizes to obtain the same level of security (160-bit ECC = 1024-bit RSA).
    • Requires fewer resources than RSA.
  • Elliptical Curve Diffie-Hellman Ephemeral (ECDHE)
    • Variant of DHE using ECC for perfect forward secrecy.
  • El Gamal
    • An extension to the Diffie-Hellman using an ephemeral key.
  • Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and GNU Privacy Guard (GPG)
    • Developed by Phillip R. Zimmerman in 1991.
    • Used to encrypt and sign email messages.
    • Establishes a web of trust between the users.
      • A web of trust implies that the users generate and distribute their public keys.
      • These keys are signed by users for each other, establishing a community of users who trust each other for communication.
      • Every user has a collection of signed public keys stored in a file known as a web ring.
    • PGP provides the following functionalities:
      • Confidentiality through the International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA).
      • Integrity through the Message Digest 5 (MD5) hashing algorithm.
      • Authentication through public key certificates.
      • Non-repudiation through encrypted signed messages.
  • Knapsack {source}
    • AKA Merkle-Hellman Knapsack Crypotosystem
      • One of the earliest public key cryptosystems.


  • 'Digital fingerprint'
  • Work by taking a string of any length and producing a fixed-length string for output.
  • Changing the original changes the hash value.
  • Originator takes a hash of the file and provides hash to receiver.
  • Receiver takes hash of file and compares with original to ensure file integrity.

Hashing Algorithms

  • Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA, SHA-1, SHA-2, SHA-3)
    • Developed by the US NSA
    • SHA-1 can generate a 160-bit hash from any variable-length string of data.
    • SHA-2 = SHA-22, SHA-256, SHA-348, and SHA-512 (based on their digest lengths)
    • SHA-3, published in 2012, not widely used yet.
  • Message Digest Algorithm (MD2, MD4, MD5)
    • The most widely known hashing function.
    • Produces a 16-byte hash value, usually expressed as a 32 digit hexadecimal number.
    • Considered compromised. Rainbow tables have been published which allow people to reverse MD5 hashes made without good salts.
  • Message Authentication Code (MAC)
    • Authentication of messages using a secret key.
    • Used in electronic fund transfers to protect against fraud.
  • Hash-Based Message Authentication Code (HMAC)
    • HMAC combines a cryptographic hash function and a secret crypto key.
    • HMAC does not encrypt the message, only the key.
  • Keyed Hashing for Message Authentication Code (KHMAC)
    • Used to digitally sign packets that are transmitted on Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) connections.
  • RACE Integrity Primitives Evaluation Message Digest (RIPEMD)
    • Design based on MD4.
    • 160-bit version of the algorithm (RIPEMD-160) performs comparably to SHA-1.
    • Processes 1024-bit block sizes of information.
    • Creates message digests of variable sizes rather than a fixed output value.
    • Produces hashes in lengths of 128, 160, 192, 224, and 256.

Rainbow Tables and Salts

  • Rainbow Table
    • A pre-computed table for reversing cryptographic hash functions.
    • All of the possible hashes are computed in advance.
  • Salt
    • Random data that is used as an additional input to hash

Key Stretching

  • Processes used to take a weak key and make it stronger, usually by making it longer.
  • Bcrypt
    • Based on the blowfish algorithm.
    • Provides an adaptive hash function based on a key factor.
  • Password-Based Key Derivation Function 2 (PBKDF2)
    • Algorithm applies a pseudo-random function to the password combined with a salt of at least 64 bits, and then repeats the process at least 1000 times.
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On this page
Symmetric Algorithms
Cipher Modes
Asymmetric Encryption
Asymmetric Algorithms
Hashing Algorithms
Rainbow Tables and Salts
Key Stretching