Brute Force: Cracking the Data Encryption Standard / Edition 1

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In 1996, the supposedly uncrackable US federal encryption system was broken. In this captivating and intriguing book, Matt Curtin charts the rise and fall of DES and chronicles the efforts of those who were determined to master it.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Once upon a time, the U.S. government set the standard of 56-bit encryption, and -- crackable though it was -- that was that. Then, an intrepid group of cypherpunks took on the government and its DES standard. They brought together thousands of computers, cracked DES, and the world has never been the same. As they say on TV, this is their story.

It’s a compelling and wide-ranging narrative. You’ll go inside one of the world’s seminal distributed computing projects (both its technology and its “sociology”). You’ll revisit the frontiers of the Internet, at the unique historical moment when it was being transformed into a global phenomenon. You’ll travel into the realms of politics and national security. And, along the way, you’ll learn more than a little crypto (which has rarely been explained this painlessly). Bill Camarda, from the May 2005 Read Only

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

An excellent story about the thousands of volunteers who battled to prove that the aging standard for date encryption was too weak and to wrestle strong cryptography from the control of the U.S. government...It is a worthy book for almost anyone who has a computer.

-Louis Kruh, Cryptologia, Volume 30, 2006

Brute Force is about as entertaining a read as you will get on cryptography. It provides a detailed account of how DES was taken down and is an interesting read for any student of cryptography and the crypto wars of the 1990s.

-Ben Rothke,, September 2005

Matt Curtin was right at the heart of the Deschall cracking effort, and his book is excellent in describing the day-to-day progress towards the goal...

-Richard Clayton, Times Higher Education Supplement (U.K.), October 2005

"This book is an exciting popular account of an important event nearly ten years ago in the social history of cryptography. … The book is written to tell the story of how the DESCHALL (Des challenge) project came together, to encourage interest in cryptography amongst the young and to make the subject more accessible to people. It would seem to be successful on all counts." (P. D. F. Ion, Mathematical Reviews, Issue 2006 j)

"DESCHALL’s goal was to search through 72 quadrillion keys to demonstrate the feasibility of a brute force attack on DES … . Curtin starts with the genesis of DES … . he manages to keep interest alive with a taut but lively prose, a focus on the human element of the story … . the non-technical reader will appreciate the evocative similes … . Perhaps most intriguing in Curtin’s narrative are … the human and social aspect of divvying up the workload … ." (Daniel Bilar, MathDL, November, 2005)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387201092
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 2/16/2005
  • Edition description: 2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 0.69 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Working late 1
2 Keeping secrets 3
3 Data encryption standard 11
4 Key length 23
5 Discovery 37
6 RSA crypto challenges 41
7 Congress takes note 49
8 Supercomputer 57
9 Organizing DESCHALL 63
10 Needle in a haystack 75
11 Spreading the word 77
12 The race is on 85
13 Clients 91
14 Architecture 97
15 Progress 113
16 Trouble 121
17 Milestones 127
18 Gateways 135
19 Network 139
20 Download 141
21 Short circuit 151
22 DESCHALL community 159
23 Proposal 163
24 In the lead 165
25 Recruiting 169
26 Threats 175
27 Overdrive 189
28 Distributed 199
29 An obstacle 207
30 Export 213
31 Getting word out 215
32 Salvos in the crypto wars 229
33 New competition 235
34 Netlag 239
35 Terminal velocity 241
36 Duct tape 249
37 Showdown in the Senate 255
38 Strong cryptography makes the world a safer place 259
39 Aftermath 267
40 Staying the course 271
41 In retrospect 275
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