[RC5] newbie question

Greg Wooledge greg at wooledge.org
Wed Aug 20 20:02:34 EDT 2003

Michael Garriss (mgarriss at earthlink.net) wrote:

> I have started to look into moving into other distributed projects 
> (currently doing seti and folding at home).  I curious about the rc5 
> project.  What's it's purpose?  I understand the descriptions on the 
> site but how does solving this problem help?

At the time the encryption projects began (RC5, DES), the United
States was still using 56-bit DES as the standard encryption.
Furthermore, there were rather stringent laws in effect which banned
the export of "strong" encryption (which is classified as munitions).

The purpose of the contests (sponsored by RSA Laboratories) was to
demonstrate the relative strengths of various ciphers given current
technology.  In so doing, they also had the side effect of exposing
the then-current US standards and legislation as being somewhat
inadequate and out of touch with the times.

Since that time, the US government has switched to a Rijndael-based
cipher for its new encryption standard ("AES"), and the export
laws governing cryptography have been slightly relaxed.  Clearly we
can't point to dnet's RC5 and DES efforts as the sole catalyst
for this change, because there were many other efforts occurring at
the same time.  But it's nice to think that we played a part.

Oh, and RSA Labs is also offering cash prizes for the people who
complete the contests.  A bit of money never hurts.

Greg Wooledge                  |   "Truth belongs to everybody."
greg at wooledge.org              |    - The Red Hot Chili Peppers
http://wooledge.org/~greg/     |
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