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Cryptography is the process of creating secret messages in an effort to hide sensitive data. In computer science, there are many methods of encrypting data. The data encryption standard (DES) was the first defined standard for computer encryption. DES cryptography was created in 1976 by a group from IBM. At that time it was considered the standard method for creating encrypted data for the United States government.
DES cryptography is based on a special 56-bit encryption key algorithm. The encryption key is the primary method for encrypting and decrypting messages. This encryption process is typically referred to as ciphering and deciphering secret messages. Encryption is a process of converting simple strings of text data into a scrambled version of characters. This cryptographic process is completed by using special hashing algorithms with the unique 56-bit encryption key.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the governing body that manages encryption standards within the United States. This group accepted DES cryptography as the defined standard for data encryption between the years of 1974 to 2001 for all government agencies. In 2001 DES cryptography was superseded by the advanced encryption standard (AES). The new standard supports a more advanced encryption key of 256-bit.
There were many permutations of the DES cryptography during its reign as the standard for data encryption. In early 1986 it was used in video ciphering. This encryption process was the defined method used by cable companies to scramble cable video broadcasts. This forced customers to purchase special video cable boxes that included the DES encryption algorithm. This algorithm was required to unscramble the video broadcast.
The primary issue with DES cryptography is the size of the encryption key. The 56-bit key did not provide enough of a deterrent for computer hackers. The DES standard was quickly deciphered and many black-market encryption algorithms became readily available.
In 1998 an encryption program was created to prove the weakness of the DES cryptography. This was created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and known as DES cracker called “Deep Crack.” The program was able to break the code for DES in 56 hours. This was the final blow to the DES standard, which forced the creation of the new AES standard.
AES cryptography was declared the standard encryption by NIST in 2001. Today there are many encryption algorithms available that meet the AES standard. Most of these algorithms offer a extremely high level of security that cannot be cracked. DES cryptography is typically only supported in legacy systems that cannot support a large encryption keys.