Re: What does this all mean?

Jeff Simmons (
Sat, 17 May 1997 13:59:53 -0700 (PDT)

> 5. Finally, not to be a cynic, since I support the effort, but one could
> argue that an encryption key which requires an effort of this scale to
> crack is, by definition, pretty damn secure; i.e. hope the project isn't in
> itself self-defeating.

Bruce Schneier's "Applied Cryptography" is a must-browse for anyone
interested in DES or why we are trying to crack it. Skip the complex
stuff, skim what interests you. The following, slightly edited, is taken
from the second edition.

"More recently, Michael Wiener decided to design a brute-force cracking
machine. (He designed the machine for DES, but the analysis holds for
most any algorithm.) He designed specialized chips, boards, and racks.
He estimated prices. And he discovered that for $1 million, someone
could build a machine that could crack a 56-bit DES key in an average
of 3.5 hours (results guaranteed in 7 hours). And that the price/speed
ratio is linear [Table of cost/speed estimates deleted]. Remember
Moore's Law: Computing power doubles approximately every 18 months.
This means costs go down a factor of 10 every five years; what cost
$1 million to build in 1995 will cost a mere $100,000 in the year
2000. Pipelined computers might do even better."

Jeff Simmons

Hey, man, got any spare CPU cycles? Help crack DES.