[RC5] What does finding the contest key prove?

Matthew_Webber at cca-int.com Matthew_Webber at cca-int.com
Thu Apr 15 20:02:15 EDT 1999


One of the original motivations behind the DES key-cracking contests was to
prove that 56 (or whatever) bit encryption is not strong enough to protect
important information given the amount of processing power available today
(this is particularly the line pushed by the EFF).  However, as I
understand it, in these contests the client "knows" that it has found the
correct key, because when we decrypt using the candidate key, the result
matches the first part of the plaintext message. The point here is that we
have been told by the contest organiser what the first part of the
plaintext message (this applies to the current RC5 contest as well).

What does this tell us about a read-world cracking example, where we do NOT
know any part of the plaintext message (we may not even know what language
or characterset it is in)? If I have mis-understood the issue, please
clarify!



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