data encryption standard (DES)

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Financial industry standard for encryption-decryption of accounting and money transfer information exchanged electronically. DES employs a fixed length block cipher and key (64-bit and 56-bit long respectively). Developed by IBM, it was standardized in 1977 and is used every day by millions of credit card swipe machines (magnetic stripe readers) and automatic teller machines (ATMs) all over the world. Its code was broken only in 1997 by using a 'brute force' code-cracking program (running for 140 days on a network of hundreds of computers). Since then, the financial industry is trying Triple-DES (with three-times the security of the original DES), and is simultaneously working on the Advanced Encryption Standard.


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