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BDES(1) NetBSD General Commands Manual BDES(1)
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bdes -- encrypt/decrypt using the Data Encryption Standard
bdes [-abdp] [-F N] [-f N] [-k key] [-m N] [-o N] [-v vector]
bdes implements all DES modes of operation described in FIPS PUB 81,
including alternative cipher feedback mode and both authentication modes.
bdes reads from the standard input and writes to the standard output. By
default, the input is encrypted using cipher block chaining mode. Using
the same key for encryption and decryption preserves plain text.
All modes but the electronic code book mode require an initialization
vector; if none is supplied, the zero vector is used. If no key is spec-
ified on the command line, the user is prompted for one (see getpass(3)
for more details).
The options are as follows:
-a The key and initialization vector strings are to be taken as
ASCII, suppressing the special interpretation given to leading
``0X'', ``0x'', ``0B'', and ``0b'' characters. This flag
applies to both the key and initialization vector.
-b Use electronic code book mode. This is not recommended for
messages longer than 8 bytes, as patterns in the input will
show through to the output.
-d Decrypt the input.
-F N Use N-bit alternative cipher feedback mode. Currently N must
be a multiple of 7 between 7 and 56 inclusive (this does not
conform to the alternative CFB mode specification).
-f N Use N-bit cipher feedback mode. Currently N must be a multi-
ple of 8 between 8 and 64 inclusive (this does not conform to
the standard CFB mode specification).
-k key Use key as the cryptographic key.
-m N Compute a message authentication code (MAC) of N bits on the
input. The value of N must be between 1 and 64 inclusive; if
N is not a multiple of 8, enough 0 bits will be added to pad
the MAC length to the nearest multiple of 8. Only the MAC is
output. MACs are only available in cipher block chaining mode
or in cipher feedback mode.
-o N Use N-bit output feedback mode. Currently N must be a multi-
ple of 8 between 8 and 64 inclusive (this does not conform to
the OFB mode specification).
-p Disable the resetting of the parity bit. This flag forces the
parity bit of the key to be used as typed, rather than making
each character be of odd parity. It is used only if the key
is given in ASCII.
-v vector Set the initialization vector to vector; the vector is inter-
preted in the same way as the key. The vector is ignored in
electronic codebook mode. For best security, a different ini-
tialization vector should be used for each file.
The key and initialization vector are taken as sequences of ASCII charac-
ters which are then mapped into their bit representations. If either
begins with ``0X'' or ``0x'', that one is taken as a sequence of hexadec-
imal digits indicating the bit pattern; if either begins with ``0B'' or
``0b'', that one is taken as a sequence of binary digits indicating the
bit pattern. In either case, only the leading 64 bits of the key or ini-
tialization vector are used, and if fewer than 64 bits are provided,
enough 0 bits are appended to pad the key to 64 bits.
According to the DES standard, the low-order bit of each character in the
key string is deleted. Since most ASCII representations set the high-
order bit to 0, simply deleting the low-order bit effectively reduces the
size of the key space from 2**56 to 2**48 keys. To prevent this, the
high-order bit must be a function depending in part upon the low-order
bit; so, the high-order bit is set to whatever value gives odd parity.
This preserves the key space size. Note this resetting of the parity bit
is not done if the key is given in binary or hex, and can be disabled for
ASCII keys as well.
The DES is considered a very strong cryptosystem hobbled by a short key,
and other than table lookup attacks, key search attacks, and Hellman's
time-memory tradeoff (all of which are very expensive and time-consum-
ing), no practical cryptanalytic methods for breaking the DES are known
in the open literature. As of this writing, the best known cryptanalytic
method is linear cryptanalysis, which requires an average of 2**43 known
plaintext-ciphertext pairs to succeed. Unfortunately for the DES, key
search attacks (requiring only a single known plaintext-ciphertext pair
and trying 2**55 keys on average) are becoming practical.
As with all cryptosystems, the choice of keys and key security remain the
most vulnerable aspect of bdes.
For implementors wishing to write software compatible with this program,
the following notes are provided. This software is believed to be com-
patible with the implementation of the data encryption standard distrib-
uted by Sun Microsystems, Inc.
In the ECB and CBC modes, plaintext is encrypted in units of 64 bits (8
bytes, also called a block). To ensure that the plaintext file is
encrypted correctly, bdes will (internally) append from 1 to 8 bytes, the
last byte containing an integer stating how many bytes of that final
block are from the plaintext file, and encrypt the resulting block.
Hence, when decrypting, the last block may contain from 0 to 7 characters
present in the plaintext file, and the last byte tells how many. Note
that if during decryption the last byte of the file does not contain an
integer between 0 and 7, either the file has been corrupted or an incor-
rect key has been given. A similar mechanism is used for the OFB and CFB
modes, except that those simply require the length of the input to be a
multiple of the mode size, and the final byte contains an integer between
0 and one less than the number of bytes being used as the mode. (This
was another reason that the mode size must be a multiple of 8 for those
Unlike Sun's implementation, unused bytes of that last block are not
filled with random data, but instead contain what was in those byte posi-
tions in the preceding block. This is quicker and more portable, and
does not weaken the encryption significantly.
If the key is entered in ASCII, the parity bits of the key characters are
set so that each key character is of odd parity. Unlike Sun's implemen-
tation, it is possible to enter binary or hexadecimal keys on the command
line, and if this is done, the parity bits are not reset. This allows
testing using arbitrary bit patterns as keys.
The Sun implementation always uses an initialization vector of 0 (that
is, all zeroes). By default, bdes does too, but this may be changed from
the command line.
Data Encryption Standard, Federal Information Processing Standard #46,
National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, January 1977,
DES Modes of Operation, Federal Information Processing Standard #81,
National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, December 1980,
Dorothy Denning, Cryptography and Data Security, Addison-Wesley
Publishing Co., 1982, Reading, MA.
Matt Bishop, Implementation Notes on bdes(1), Technical Report PCS-
TR-91-158, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Dartmouth
College, April 1991, Hanover, NH 03755.
M.J. Wiener, Efficient DES Key Search, Technical Report 244, School of
Computer Science, Carleton University, May 1994.
Bruce Schneier, Applied Cryptography (2nd edition), John Wiley & Sons,
Inc., 1996, New York, NY.
M. Matsui, Linear Cryptanalysis Method for DES Cipher, Springer-Verlag,
Advances in Cryptology -- Eurocrypt '93 Proceedings, 1994.
Blaze, Diffie, Rivest, Schneier, Shimomura, Thompson, and Wiener, Minimal
Key Lengths for Symmetric Ciphers To Provide Adequate Commercial
Security, Business Software Alliance, January 1996,
When this document was originally written, there was a controversy raging
over whether the DES would still be secure in a few years. There is now
near-universal consensus in the cryptographic community that the key
length of the DES is far too short. The advent of special-purpose hard-
ware could reduce the cost of any of the methods of attack named above so
that they are no longer computationally infeasible; in addition, the
explosive growth in the number and speed of modern microprocessors as
well as advances in programmable logic devices has brought an attack
using only commodity hardware into the realm of possibility. Schneier
and others currently recommend using cryptosystems with keys of at least
90 bits when long-term security is needed.
As the key or key schedule is stored in memory, the encryption can be
compromised if memory is readable. Additionally, programs which display
programs' arguments may compromise the key and initialization vector, if
they are specified on the command line. To avoid this bdes overwrites
its arguments, however, the obvious race cannot currently be avoided.
Certain specific keys should be avoided because they introduce potential
weaknesses; these keys, called the weak and semiweak keys, are (in hex
notation, where p is either 0 or 1, and P is either e or f):
This is inherent in the DES algorithm (see Moore and Simmons, ``Cycle
structure of the DES with weak and semi-weak keys'', Advances in
Cryptology - Crypto '86 Proceedings, Springer-Verlag New York, ©1987, pp.
NetBSD 5.0.1 December 1, 2001 NetBSD 5.0.1