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Mastering Algorithms with C by Kyle Loudon

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DES Example: Block Cipher Modes

Most block ciphers, such as DES, encipher and decipher data in 64-bit blocks. Since nearly all of the work done with ciphers involves more data than this, we end up invoking the cipher over and over again to process all of the blocks. The specific manner in which a block cipher is invoked repeatedly is called a block cipher mode.

The simplest way to process several blocks of data is to append each block of ciphertext we generate to others generated before it. This primitive approach is called ECB, or electronic code book. Its simplicity makes it very popular, but it is relatively insecure. Its main problem is that for any given key, a specific block of plaintext always enciphers to the same block of ciphertext wherever it appears in the data. This means that if an adversary cracks even a small section of the data, he can begin to develop a code book for cracking other sections as well. A better approach is CBC, or cipher block chaining.

CBC mode avoids the problems of ECB by augmenting a block cipher with simple operations and feedback . Feedback makes each block of ciphertext depend in some way on actions performed earlier. In CBC mode, previous blocks of ciphertext serve as feedback so that even the same block of plaintext is likely to encipher into a different block of ciphertext each time it appears.

For previous blocks of ciphertext to serve as feedback, before we encipher a block of plaintext, we XOR it with the block of ciphertext generated ...

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