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Senior Editor

A look at AES security

Feb 26, 20032 mins

* How Advanced Encryption Standard is likely to affect corporate computing

Our Technology Update this week looks at one of the myriad security standards likely to affect corporate computing.

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and protects data through encryption. AES supports key sizes of 128 bits, 192 bits and 256 bits and will ultimately serve as a replacement for the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which has a key size of 56 bits.

In addition to the increased security that comes with larger key sizes, AES can encrypt data much faster than Triple-DES, a DES enhancement that which essentially encrypts a message or document three times.

According to our author (Bill Stallings, the principal drawback of Triple-DES is that the algorithm is relatively sluggish in software. The original DES was designed for mid-1970s hardware implementation and does not produce efficient software code. Triple-DES, which has three times as many rounds as DES, is correspondingly slower, he says.

AES on the other hand, generally requires less processing time and is typically faster. According to our author, most current implementations of AES are in software, but you can expect to see firmware/hardware implementations as the encryption scheme becomes more widely used.

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