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Applied Cryptography

Second Edition
By Bruce Schneier


There are two kinds of cryptography in this world: cryptography that will stop your kid sister from reading your files, and cryptography that will stop major governments from reading your files. This book is about the latter.

If I take a letter, lock it in a safe, hide the safe somewhere in New York, and then tell you to read the letter, that's not security. That's obscurity. On the other hand, if I take a letter and lock it in a safe, and then give you the safe along with the design specifications of the safe and a hundred identical safes with their combinations so that you and the world's best safecrackers can study the locking mechanism--and you still can't open the safe and read the letter, that's security.

For many years, this sort of cryptography was the exclusive domain of the military. The United States' National Security Agency (NSA), and their counterparts in the former Soviet Union, England, France, Israel, and elsewhere, have spent billions of dollars in the very serious game of securing their own communications while trying to break everyone else's. Private individuals, with far less expertise and budget, have been powerless to protect their own privacy against these governments.

During the last 20 years, public academic research in cryptography has exploded. While classical cryptography has been long used by ordinary citizens, since World War II computer cryptography was the exclusive domain of the world's militaries. Today, state-of-the-art computer cryptography is practiced outside the secured walls of the military agencies. The layperson can now employ security practices that can protect against the most powerful of adversaries--security that may protect against military agencies for years to come.

Do average people really need this kind of security? Yes. They may be planning a political campaign, discussing taxes, or having an illicit affair. They may be designing a new product, discussing a marketing strategy, or planning a hostile business takeover. Or they may be living in a country that does not respect the rights of privacy of its citizens. They may be doing something that they feel shouldn't be illegal, but is. For whatever reason, the data and communications are personal, private, and no one else's business.

This book is being published in a tumultuous time. In 1994, the Clinton administration approved the Escrowed Encryption Standard (including the Clipper chip) and signed the Digital Telephony bill into law. Both of these initiatives try to ensure the government's ability to conduct electronic surveillance.

Some dangerously Orwellian assumptions are at work here: that the government has right to listen to private communications, and that there is something wrong with a private citizen trying to keep a secret from the government. Law enforcement has always been able to conduct court authorized surveillance if possible, but this is the first time that the people have been forced to take active measures to make themselves available for surveillance. These initiatives are not simply government proposals in some obscure area; they are preemptive and unilateral attempts to usurp powers that previously belonged to the people.

Clipper and Digital Telephony do not protect privacy; they force individuals to unconditionally trust that the government will respect their privacy. The same law enforcement authorities who illegally tapped Martin Luther King Jr.'s phones can easily tap a phone protected with Clipper. In the recent past, local police authorities have either been charged criminally or sued civilly in numerous jurisdictions--Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, Georgia, Missouri, and Nevada--for conducting illegal wiretaps. It's a poor idea to deploy a technology that could some day facilitate a police state.

The lesson here is that it is insufficient to protect ourselves with laws; we need to protect ourselves with mathematics. Encryption is too important to be left solely to governments. This book gives you the tools you need to protect your own privacy; cryptography products may be declared illegal, but the information will never be.

How to Read This Book

I wrote Applied Cryptography to be a both a lively introduction to the field of cryptography and a comprehensive reference work. I have tried to keep the text readable without sacrificing accuracy. This book is not intended to be a mathematical text. Although I have not deliberately given any false information, I do play fast and loose with theory. For those interested in formalism, there are copious references to the academic literature.

Chapter 1 introduces cryptography, defines many terms, and briefly discusses precomputer cryptography.

Chapters 2 through 6 (Part I) describe cryptographic protocols: what people can do with cryptography. The protocols range from the simple (sending encrypted messages from one person to another) to the complex (flipping a coin over the telephone) to the esoteric (secure and anonymous digital money exchange). Some of these protocols are obvious; others are almost amazing. Cryptography can solve a lot of problems that most people never realized it could.

Chapters 7 through 10 (Part II) discuss cryptographic techniques. All four chapters in this section are important for even the most basic uses of cryptography. Chapters 7 and 8 are about keys: how long a key should be in order to be secure, how to generate keys, how to store keys, how to dispose of keys, and so on. Key management is the hardest part of cryptography and often the Achilles' heel of an otherwise secure system. Chapter 9 discusses different ways of using cryptographic algorithms, and Chapter 10 gives the odds and ends of algorithms: how to choose, implement, and use algorithms.

Chapters 11 through 23 (Part III) list algorithms. Chapter 11 provides the mathematical background. This chapter is only required if you are interested in public-key algorithms. If you just want to implement DES (or something similar), you can skip ahead. Chapter 12 discusses DES: the algorithm, its history, its security, and some variants. Chapters 13, 14, and 15 discuss other block algorithms; if you want something more secure than DES, skip to the section on IDEA and triple-DES. If you want to read about a bunch of algorithms, some of which may be more secure than DES, read the whole chapter. Chapters 16 and 17 discuss stream algorithms. Chapter 18 focuses on one-way hash functions; MD5 and SHA are the most common, although I discuss many more. Chapter 19 discusses public-key encryption algorithms, chapter 20 discusses public-key digital signature algorithms, chapter 21 discusses public-key identification algorithms, and chapter 22 discusses public-key key exchange algorithms. The important algorithms are RSA, DSA, Fiat-Shamir, and Diffie-Hellman, respectively. Chapter 23 has more esoteric public-key algorithms and protocols; the math in this chapter is quite complicated, so wear your seat belt.

Chapters 24 and 25 (Part IV) turn to the real world of cryptography. Chapter 24 discusses some of the current implementations of these algorithms and protocols, while chapter 25 touches on some of the political issues surrounding cryptography. These chapters are by no means intended to be comprehensive.

Also included are source code listings for ten algorithms discussed in Part III. I was unable to include all the code I wanted to due to space limitations, and cryptographic source code cannot otherwise be exported. (Amazingly enough, the State Department allowed export of the first edition of this book with source code, but denied export for a computer disk with the exact same source code on it. Go figure.) An associated source code disk set includes much more source code than I could fit in this book; it is probably the largest collection of cryptographic source code outside a military institution. I can only send source code disks to U.S. and Canadian citizens living in the U.S. and Canada, but hopefully that will change someday. If you are interested in implementing or playing with the cryptographic algorithms in this book, get the disk. See the last page of the book for details.

One criticism of this book is that its encyclopedic nature takes away from its readability. This is true, but I wanted to provide a single reference for those who might come across an algorithm in the academic literature or in a product. For those who are more interested in a tutorial, I apologize. A lot is being done in the field; this is the first time so much of it has been gathered between two covers. Even so, space considerations forced me to leave many things out. I covered topics that I felt were important, practical, or interesting. If I couldn't cover a topic in depth, I gave references to articles and papers that did.

I have done my best to hunt down and eradicate all errors in this book, but many have assured me that it is an impossible task. Certainly, the second edition has far fewer errors than the first. An errata listing is available from me and will be periodically posted to the Usenet newsgroup sci.crypt. If any reader finds an error, please let me know. I'll send the first person to find each error in the book a free copy of the source code disk.


The list of people who had a hand in this book may seem unending, but all are worthy of mention. I would like to thank Don Alvarez, Ross Anderson, Dave Balenson, Karl Barrus, Steve Bellovin, Dan Bernstein, Eli Biham, Joan Boyar, Karen Cooper, Whit Diffie, Joan Feigenbaum, Phil Karn, Neal Koblitz, Xuejia Lai, Tom Leranth, Mike Markowitz, Ralph Merkle, Bill Patton, Peter Pearson, Charles Pfleeger, Ken Pizzini, Bart Preneel, Mark Riordan, Joachim Schurman, and Marc Schwartz for reading and editing all or parts of the first edition; Marc Vauclair for translating the first edition into French; Abe Abraham, Ross Anderson, Steve Bellovin, Eli Biham, Matt Bishop, Matt Blaze, Gary Carter, Jan Comenisch, Claude Crépeau, Joan Daemen, Jorge Davila, Ed Dawson, Whit Diffie, Carl Ellison, Joan Feigenbaum, Niels Ferguson, Matt Franklin, Rosario Gennaro, Dieter Gollmann, Mark Goresky, Richard Graveman, Stuart Haber, Jingman He, Bob Hogue, Kenneth Iversen, Markus Jakobsson, Burt Kaliski, Phil Karn, John Kelsey, John Kennedy, Lars Knudsen, Paul Kocher, John Ladwig, Xuejia Lai, Arjen Lenstra, Paul Leyland, Mike Markowitz, Jim Massey, Bruce McNair, William Hugh Murray, Roger Needham, Clif Neuman, Kaisa Nyberg, Luke O'Connor, Peter Pearson, René Peralta, Yisrael Radai, Michael Roe, Phil Rogaway, Avi Rubin, Paul Rubin, Selwyn Russell, Kazue Sako, Mahmoud Salmasizadeh, Markus Stadler, Dmitry Titov, Jimmy Upton, Marc Vauclair, Serge Vaudenay, Gideon Yuval, and Glen Zorn for reading and editing all or parts of the second-edition; Lawrie Brown, Leisa Condie, Joan Daemen, Peter Gutmann, Alan Insley, Chris Johnston, John Kelsey, Xuejia Lai, Bill Leininger, Mike Markowitz, Richard Outerbridge, Peter Pearson, Ken Pizzini, Colin Plumb, RSA Data Security, Inc., Michael Roe, Michael Wood, and Phil Zimmermann for providing source code; Paul MacNerland for creating the figures for the first edition; Karen Cooper for copyediting the second edition; Beth Friedman for proofreading the second edition; Carol Kennedy for indexing the second edition; the readers of sci.crypt and the Cypherpunks mailing list for commenting on ideas, answering questions, and finding errors in the first edition; Randy Suess for providing Internet access; Jeff Duntemann and Jon Erickson for helping me get started; assorted random Insleys for the impetus, encouragement, support, conversations, friendship, and dinners; and AT&T Bell Labs for firing me and making this all possible. All these people helped to create a far better book than I could have created alone.

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