5.9. Using a Generic CTR Mode Implementation


You want to use counter (CTR) mode and your library doesn’t provide an interface, or you want to use a more high-level interface than your library provides. Alternatively, you would like a portable CTR interface, or you have only a block cipher implementation and you would like to use CTR mode.


CTR mode encrypts by generating keystream, then combining the keystream with the plaintext via XOR. This mode generates keystream one block at a time by encrypting plaintexts that are the same, except for an ever-changing counter, as shown in Figure 5-4. Generally, the counter value starts at zero and is incremented sequentially.

Counter (CTR) mode

Figure 5-4. Counter (CTR) mode

Few libraries provide a CTR implementation, because it has only recently come into favor, despite the fact that it is a very old mode with great properties. We provide code implementing this mode in the following Section 5.9.3.



You should probably use a higher-level abstraction, such as the one discussed in Recipe 5.16. Use a raw mode only when absolutely necessary, because there is a huge potential for introducing asecurity vulnerability by accident. If you still want to use CTR mode, be sure to use a message authentication code with it.

CTR mode is a stream-based mode. Encryption occurs by XOR’ing the keystream bytes with the plaintext bytes. The keystream is ...

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